Today, for Simon and Schuster Canada’s #TimelessTour blog tour on historical fiction, I have a guest post by Susanna Kearsley, author of Belleweather.
In Bellewether, Charley’s job at a museum leads her to getting caught up in the story of Lydia and the soldier from Montreal. For this guest post, Susanna Kearsley writes about her favourite museum, and what about it or its collections she finds so compelling.
Guest Post By Susanna Kearsley
Visiting museums, after having worked in that field, can be a bit of a busman’s holiday for me. While other visitors are walking around enjoying the exhibits, I’m noticing that the lux levels are too high, or that the artifacts aren’t properly supported in their display case, or that the flow of the exhibit space is all wrong, or not accessible enough; and even if all that is perfectly done, I’m watching the other visitors and feeling my blood pressure rise every time someone takes a flash photograph after being told not to (because the intensity of that flash, multiplied by the number of people who will do it, will inevitably degrade and ruin the piece you’re taking a photograph of, when you could just go and buy a postcard of it in the gift shop).
But when I travel for research, I still wander through them from time to time, and I have found that it usually isn’t the grand and impressive ones I love the best.
In St. Petersburg, Russia, for example, I spent some hours in the famous Hermitage Museum, with its sweeping, gilded staircases, palatial rooms, and priceless works of art. And it was beautiful. I found some portraits there that made me stop and look a moment in that quiet kind of way you only feel when you’re communing with a painting. It was memorable.
But a little while after that, I went across the river to the Menshikov Palace—a smaller museum, less well-known among tourists—and wandered through that with my mother, and that day was magic.
There was almost no one else there. Every room we walked into, it felt like the 18th century occupants had just left moments before. You could feel them around you, the women and men who had lived in those rooms—hear the swish of their skirts and the murmur of voices, a swift fall of steps in the shadows.
Maybe it’s because my own museum background is in historic houses, but most often those are my favourite museums—the places where, like at the Menshikov Palace, I feel a connection with people who’ve walked there before, in an earlier time.
Celebrate historical fiction with the Timeless Tour, from April 16 – May 4!
For more information, visit www.timelesstour.ca.
Thank you to Simon and Schuster Canada for the invitation to participate in this blog tour.