5 Tips for Your Inspiration Expedition

Not all those who wander are lost. All those who wonder are found.

Detail from a map in the collection of the Boston Public Library’s Norman B. Leventhal Map Center.

A few weeks ago, all the sins published my reflections on and exhortations to the wonders of gathering artistic inspiration in museums. (If you missed it, you can find it here.)

This week, they’re back with my best suggestions on how to outfit yourself for a museum exploration. Matthew Henson didn’t head for the North Pole without a coat, after all!

So if you’re suffering writer’s block, or it’s been ages since you went on that school trip to your local historical society, here are my 5 tips on using museums for inspiration.

…Inspiration can come from a fossil in a natural history collection, a scrap of wallpaper in a historic house, the view from a national park peak. What would a taxidermied specimen have to say to its collector? What words still resonate in the walls of an old structure? Whose hands molded the pot whose shards sit in that case, and how do the pieces evoke the whole?