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Granite Bay Today

The Student News Site of Granite Bay High School

Granite Bay Today

The Student News Site of Granite Bay High School

Granite Bay Today

Are museums a dying art: students reflect on museum relevance

Jack Stebbins
Juniors and senior walk through the entrance of San Francisco’s Legion Of Honor Art Museum.

Walking in through the grand, plaster-white archway, senior Irene Vega-Hernandez is met with an onslaught of marble columns and a spacious front plaza. “Honneur Et Patrie”-Honour and Fatherland-adorns the front entrance of San Francisco’s Legion Of Honor Art Museum.

Established in 1924, the Legion of Honor is one of San Francisco’s most notable museums, renowned for its unique blend of ancient as well as contemporary pieces.

On Jan. 22nd, the GBHS art program made the trek to the Legion of Honor as part of their bi-annual field-trip. This trip represents a particularly out-of-the-norm excursion for high schoolers-getting to see art in person.

In a recent poll conducted on Granite Bay Today’s Instagram, we found that out of 160 students, only 22% of GBHS students have reported going to a museum or art gallery in the last 6 months. This statistic begs the question-are museums worth going to?

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Displayed is a summary of the Granite Bay Today poll given on Instagram that asked “GBHS students, have you been to an art gallery or museum in the last six months?” (Jack Stebbins)

Museums have been a staple of major cities around the world since as far back as ancient Babylon. Additionally, the American Alliance of Museums reports that 97% of Americans see museums as “educational assets” for their communities.  

“I think that…museums, just in general,…will teach you a lot about history and also where history combines with art,” senior Irene Vega-Hernandez said.

Vega-Hernandez, who is taking IB Art, has drawn all their life and also taken ceramics courses at GBHS.

“I think (art is) just a really important form of communication to express something visually that isn’t typically visual,” Vega-Hernandez said. 

For some, the grandiose nature of museum buildings push them to take notice of the small details.

“(When) walking around with a student who hadn’t been to a museum before and hearing her comments, she took her time reading every display. She actually taught me something so she was educating me on that artist and the background behind the painting,” GBHS art program teacher Sarah Lam said when asked about her favorite experience on the field trip.

Beyond the art itself, museums offer a unique atmosphere compared to the bustling halls of GBHS. The American Alliance of Museums claims that living in a community with cultural resources such as museums confer a “five year advantage” in cognitive health. Noah Lemos, a senior in Art 3, finds particular value from this environment.

“(Museums are) a nice change of scenery and also… put me to sleep in…the best way possible. This…catharsis and…weird feeling of relaxation that I feel anytime I go to one that I don’t feel anywhere else,” Lemos said.

This “cathartic” atmosphere is felt broadly. The Museum Associations claim that museums can “increase our sense of wellbeing and make us feel healthier.”

Art, as a whole, has been a wide-spread practice for thousands of years; partly due to its positive personal effect. Americans For the Arts claim that 81% of the population of the US believe that the arts are “a positive experience in a troubled world”.

Water Lilies, exhibited at the Legion Legion Of Honor museum, by Claude Monet. (Jack Stebbins)

“I do think there’s value in art and I think it is a way to express yourself and show your ideas in a way that others can’t,” senior Eva Grenic said. 

Since the Covid-19 Pandemic, museums as a whole have been struggling severely, with the Louvre in Paris recording a 20% drop in visitors in 2022. Despite museums’ overwhelmingly positive impact on visitors, the visitor rate continues to drop, especially in the younger generation.

“I don’t have that much time on my hands to just drop everything and go to museums. Yeah. In an ideal world,” Grenic said. 

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