Cool Haunting: The Museum of Everything

If you haven’t yet been to The Museum of Everything, make sure you check it out before it moves on to the next city in February! This exhibition of art brut, aka outsider art, is housed in an old convent on the stuffy boulevard Raspail. You can’t possibly miss the museum because the signage stands out like a loopy smile in a phalanx of aloof, sand-colored buildings.

Part of what makes the show so affecting is the way it rambles from room to room, from Henry Darger to Guo Fengyi, up and down narrow steps from one floor to the next. It feels as though you are inside one of the artists’ minds, moving from wide spaces to shadowy corners, stumbling and feeling your way toward understanding. Even if the wall text weren’t there to explain each artist’s disability or troubled background, you would still feel their pain and the weight of their struggle in the art. The art is obsessive, sometimes beautiful, sometimes troubling. The Museum of Everything really made me question art -- how we define it, how we choose to validate then display it -- and made me wonder, too, about art’s therapeutic, prophylactic and redemptive power.

I was quite moved by the art, but also very grateful for the café and gift shop’s cheery respite!