To learn more about the scene, I searched for and found writer and director John Hughes’s commentary on the film. (Who better to explain the scene than Hughes himself?) In the commentary, Hughes stated that the scene was filmed at the Chicago Art Institute, a museum that was a place of “refuge” for him when he himself was in high school. Hughes remarked, “This was a chance for me to go back into this building and show the paintings that were my favorite.” During the scene, several paintings are shown. Eventually we come to a couple paintings that show a mother and a child. Regarding these paintings, Hughes stated, “This I thought was very relevant to Cameron---the tenderness of a mother and a child which he didn’t have.”
As previously mentioned, at the end of the scene, Cameron is shown staring at a large painting. Hughes explained the “mystery” as to why Cameron stares: “I used it in this context to see---he’s looking at that little girl—which again is, a mother and a child. The closer he looks at the child, the less he sees, of course, with this style of painting. But the more he looks at it, there’s nothing there. He fears that the more you look at him (Cameron), the less you see. There isn’t anything there. That’s him.”
So, in the end, the museum scene focuses on Cameron’s character---a struggling, motherless teenager living under the dominance of his father. Cameron’s brokenness and submission to his materialistic father is referenced throughout the film in various ways. Ultimately, the Museum scene adds to these references, subtly conveying Cameron’s dispirited state. Hughes’s creative way of telling the audience about Cameron only adds to the beauty of the film.
Written by Anthony Watkins
BELOW is the Museum scene: