Years ago I went to an exhibition at the National Maritime Musuem on Queen Elizabeth I.
In the exhibition was her looking glass. When I looked in the mirror and saw my reflection where she would have looked at hers it blew my mind. Just something about my reflection being where hers had been 400 years earlier really made the hairs on my neck stand up.
I suppose the effect was so strong as I am also really interested as her as a historical figure and have been since I was very young but the mirror thing alone was pretty cool.
I have seen some mind blowing art but what this thread recalls for me is when I was in college I used to volunteer at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Built in the 1890's it houses one of the premier art collections in the country. Mrs. Gardner spared no cost in pursuing and purchasing major pieces. The museum is her former home and garden which in it's own right is spectacular. Anyway,one Sunday evening after a concert held in the garden,I found myself virtually alone in this magnificent setting. There was nary a soul to be seen and I wandered around seemingly "at home" in the garden surrounded by all this magnificent art;Vermeer,Rembrandt,Singer,Matisse...Asian sculptures...After some time had passed I saw a guard who barely acknowledged me.It was spring time and the garden was coming into it's own(enclosed courtyard).I stayed until dark. Years later(1990) this same museum was the site of one of the largest art heists in history.One of the Vermeers and a Rembrandt along with several other pieces were stolen.The case remains unsolved to this day.
Yes, the first thing that comes to mind is art, but I believe you're talking about something else, Tilly.
I did catch myself desperately wanting to look into Elizabeth I's looking glass, as she fascinates me as well.
Years ago I saw a large exhibition of antique quilts from all over the US. Some of them were beautiful and artistic, but the really moving pieces were the homely, battered ones where some woman on a lonely prairie had tried to create a little beauty and comfort.
On a different note -- I used to work for a small company that sold books by mail from the US civil war era. The office was out in the country near Wilmington, NC, on the grounds of the owner's home. He was a nasty piece of work who'd inherited the business from his father. Anyway, in his office was some shelving by the desk with bits & pieces of antique stuff on it. The visitor chair was right next to the shelving. Whenever I had to go into his office I preferred to stand on the opposite side of the desk because there was something on a shelf by the visitor chair that made me very uncomfortable. I never really looked at the round, peculiar thing, just felt aversion. One day I had to be sitting in that chair for some reason and pointed at the rusty piece of metal that I found upsetting & asked what it was. It was a slave collar.