Museum of Fine Arts

I’m not sure if this is the case in the UK but, in the US, individual museum galleries (not just buildings) are named after people. Presumably, these are benefactors who have donated to the museum with the express purpose of having a gallery or room named after them (otherwise, their donation would be anonymous).

Whether it’s the ability to maximise donations or the presence of billionaire philanthropists like J Paul Getty and David Rockefeller, American museums have a lot of the world’s great art. Many famous paintings I’d seen in photos turned out to be in the US! For example, the biggest impressionist collection outside of France is in the US.

The wealth that exists in the US, however unevenly distributed, has other by-products. Austin, Chicago, and Boston have built or renovated large public central libraries. The only comparable recently built library in the UK (that I know of) is Birmingham Central Library. (I’ve excluded the newish British Library because it isn’t a lending library.) The home of the free market is providing its citizens with these large free public spaces for learning and community.

It’s easy to be carried away by the loud pro-Trump voices on social media. However, the US is a complicated place. The stereotypes you hear about America are regularly proven false. I repeatedly found people to be civic-minded, good-natured, and helpful. That may be because I went to liberal cities. It turns out that people who are liberal-minded around the world have similar characteristics. Quite often, I felt, I could have been in Europe. And Boston is, perhaps, the most European of American cities.

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