When told our “big trip” of spring break was a day trip to Ithaca, a small city only a few hours of my own Rochester, I was less than enthused. I only managed to pump myself up about it after hearing I would have the opportunity to finally visit Cornell University and its amazing Johnson Art Museum, which holds the George and Mary Rockwell collection of asian art. Being an orientophile, I was incredibly excited.
After endless hours crammed in the backseat with my two brothers, who both have the exceptionally broad shoulders of my father, we finally arrived in Ithaca Commons, a small shopping district in the center of the city. I was hot and tired, but for the sake of the trip, only complained a little. (I am, after all, a teenager, and can only hold so much lip in). The five of us, Mom, Marty, and my brothers, were marching happily through the commons, looking for a place to eat when, lo and behold, we forgot sunscreen. Our pasty white skin could only take so much sun, and it was of course noon, the sunniest part of the day. We were forced to succumb to the ridiculously overpriced twenty-dollar-a-bottle spray on kind found at the local convenience store. Very convenient. We quickly covered every part of ourselves susceptible to sun radiation, but it was too late. Every one of us had red cheeks, nose and sholders, some already peeling.
Ducking into the nearest restaurant, we chose to take refuge somewhere more airconditioned. Once inside Rising Sun Chinese Food, laughing off the irony, we were told it was in fact the hottest day of the year thus far. Any normal family would have put our plan to walk to the college campus kaputz, but determination shined in Marty’s eyes as he said “i think we should walk anyways.” We groaned, but no one objected too strongly. Thus began the most foolhardy journey in memory.
Not only was it very hot outside, but the way to the campus was up the tallest hill I have ever seen, and we would be arriving on the opposite side of the campus as the museum. We trudged up higher and higher up Buffalo Road, drenched in sweat with blisters blooming on all our feet, until finally we reached College Street, a mostly flat road that will lead us directly to one of the many Cornell gates. far from finished with our journey, we dragged on into the campus, past sunbathers and hackeysack players and a giant peace sign burned into the grassy slope, until finally, directly in front of us, we had made it. We walked, redfaced and exhausted, into the igloo that is the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art.
The visit was, in fact, worth the endless walk. After only moments looking at the alumni art, I was captured by the museum’s impressive and amazing beauty. At the top floor were sculptures, pottery, and every medium imaginable of Asian art, from ancient times of Xia and Shang, to the Qing dynasty and the beautiful porcelain it produced. Everything was so beautiful, so important and meaningful. Words can not explain the feeling of exhilaration i received from every peice, from the samurai armor down to the tiny metal farmer figurines. I walked through European history permanently displayed in canvas squares, watching each century, each culture blend into the next. It was among the greatest experiences I have ever had.
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