As part of the Des Moines Art Center’s My Museum Monday program, each month an Art Center member is invited to spend time in the museum when the building is normally closed to the public. We received several applications to take part in this experience and are excited to share them with you.

Paul Witmer heard about My Museum Monday and applied the next day. “I read about it in the e-newsletter from the art center and felt a heart-tug. The idea of being alone for a few hours among the permanent collection really appealed to me,” said Paul. He started his experience off with our recorded tour called “Being with Art.” He said that this recording helped set the tone for his experience, “I knew I was going to have a very contemplative day… [Being with Art] is a wonderful aid and I really appreciated the body-centered prompts for checking in.”

Next, Paul headed to the West Gallery to spend time with Rothko’s Light over Gray, 1956. He spent about 30 minutes meditating with Rothko in the peace and quiet of the closed galleries.  This work is one of the main reasons Paul chose to apply to My Museum Monday. “I thought about Mark Rothko and the Rothko chapel in Houston where I grew up and only visited once. I had a strong desire to sit with that particular piece as though I were in a chapel.”

After the peace and quiet, Paul decided to fill the Art Center galleries with music. He brought his flute and played pieces in different gallery spaces, testing out the differing acoustics in each space. The sound was clearest at the top of the Kyle J. and Sharon Krause atrium. Toward the end of his experience, Paul had the opportunity to discover something new. “The surprise of the day was sitting with Women Walking, No. 1 by Isabel Bishop.  This piece is new to me, and I really felt captivated by its realness. I work with incarcerated women and felt like I was joined by the spirit of everyday, every-bodied [mostly overlooked] women in this piece and in my work.”

We’re so glad that Paul participated in My Museum Monday and was afforded the time and space for self-reflection. This is why he supports the Art Center as a member. “I love art and the power of art to transform individuals and communities for the better.” We thank Paul for his support as a thoughtful museum member and talented musician!