Mission: Museums

It started as a fleeting thought brought on by cooler temperatures and sunny skies.

"It's interesting how all these museums are so close together," I muse aloud, flipping through a Calendar section.

My editor's head swivels toward me. Her eyes light up.

"Do you think you could get to them all in one day…" she begins as a puzzled look spreads across my face. My brain's whirring, "Well, of course, I could because obviously…"

The other shoe drops.

"…if you were walking?" she finishes.


I'm (reasonably) young, I'm (reasonably) in shape. So I immediately answer "yes."

After all, I've hiked the Inca trail to Machu Picchu. Of course then, there was a guide who carried tea for us and cooked us supper.

And it wasn't 86 degrees (just my luck, a freak heat wave in February).

And there wasn't the danger of Orlando traffic just inches away.

Uh-oh. What am I in for?

Another day at the office quickly becomes a strategic planning session. There are five major museums within a couple miles of each other: The Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens, the Cornell Fine Arts Museum, the Morse Museum of American Art, all in Winter Park, and Orlando's Mennello Museum of American Art and Orlando Museum of Art.

Where to start, which roads to take. Various routes are considered. There's a timing factor. All the museums but the Mennello are open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. The Mennello's hours are 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. So to maximize my time, the Mennello should be my last stop. My pencil starts redrawing my route. I mentally hear that GPS lady say "Recalculating."

The average person takes about 20 minutes to walk a leisurely mile. My route will be seven miles. Hmm, quick math: With a couple of rest breaks, that will only leave about four hours for actual museum time. So, in other words, this will not be a comprehensive exploration of any of them. Think of the endeavor as good exercise — with periodic cultural respites.

And suddenly I am lacing up my sneakers, strapping on a pedometer and on my way.

Orlando Museum of Art

I pat the hood of my car as I leave it in the Loch Haven Park lot. I won't be needing it for a while, no siree. I stride confidently into the museum, almost bouncing — bouncing, I tell you — in my sneakers I'm so eager to get going.

The major exhibit is a celebration of studio glass. I have an ace up my sleeve: I've already seen it. So, I think, I'll just revisit a few favorites and be on my way. Must use time efficiently.

Does time work differently in an art gallery? I suddenly realize it's 11:15. I've been drinking in the colors, studying the light refraction, admiring the intricate detail. What I haven't been doing is watching the time.