Day of Ideas
Tech & Innovation
Arts & Letters
Idealism & Practicality
Nature & Environment
Markets & Morals
Politics & Presidents
Atlantic Home Page
THREE DAYS TO SEE (page 6)
The next day—the second day of sight—I should arise with the dawn and see
the thrilling miracle by which night is transformed into day. I should behold
with awe the magnificent panorama of light with which the sun awakens the
This day I should devote to a hasty glimpse of the world, past and present. I
should want to see the pageant of man's progress, the kaleidoscope of the ages.
How can so much be compressed into one day? Through the museums, of course.
Often I have visited the New York Museum of Natural History to touch with my
hands many of the objects there exhibited, but I have longed to see with my
eyes the condensed history of the earth and its inhabitants displayed there --
animals and the races of men pictured in their native environment; gigantic
carcasses of dinosaurs and mastodons which roamed the earth long before man
appeared, with his tiny stature and powerful brain, to conquer the animal
kingdom; realistic presentations of the processes of evolution in animals, in
man, and in the implements which man has used to fashion for himself a secure
home on this planet; and a thousand and one other aspects of natural history.
I wonder how many readers of this article have viewed this panorama of the face
of living things as pictured in that inspiring museum. Many, of course, have
not had the opportunity, but I am sure that many who have had the
opportunity have not made use of it. There, indeed, is a place to use your
eyes. You who see can spend many fruitful days there, but I, with my imaginary
three days of sight, could only take a hasty glimpse, and pass on.
My next stop would be the Metropolitan Museum of Art, for just as the Museum of
Natural History reveals the material aspects of the world, so does the
Metropolitan show the myriad facets of the human spirit. Throughout the history
of humanity the urge to artistic expression has been almost as powerful as the
urge for food, shelter, and procreation. And here, in the vast chambers of the
Metropolitan Museum, is unfolded before me the spirit of Egypt, Greece, and
Rome, as expressed in their art. I know well through my hands the sculptured
gods and goddesses of the ancient Nile land. I have felt copies of Parthenon
friezes, and I have sensed the rhythmic beauty of charging Athenian warriors.
Apollos and Venuses and the Winged Victory of Samothrace are friends of my
finger tips. The gnarled, bearded features of Homer are dear to me, for he,
too, knew blindness.