It had been awhile since we’d taken any sort of field trip or had some Fun With Dad time, so I had my heart set on taking M to the Metropolitan Museum of Art last Thursday. It’s not as visceral as the Museum of Natural History for a child, but I felt that a few things would make it a worthwhile experience:
- The Temple of Dendur, sarcophagi and other Egyptian art since M had shown some strong interest in Pyramids not too long ago
- The various furnished American period rooms with actual interior woodwork
- Asian art, specifically Indian sculpture, to learn a little more about our culture, and the replica Ming Dynasty scholar’s courtyard
After an uneventful commute (I say that since it was the exact route I take to work, albeit with a more interesting destination) and finding a parking lot that didn’t require your firstborn as payment, we headed over to the museum. As an afterthought I’d grabbed an umbrella stroller from the car for the 4 blocks to the museum, but it was huge help in the museum itself. Even on a weekday, it was rather busy and being able to cart him around was efficient and relieving.
The visit started off really well as we headed over to Egyptian art and immediately saw a replica tomb, which M was quite curious to explore. Here he got to see his first hieroglyphs, and it felt good to show him something that we had thus far only seen in books. The next things we saw were some sarcophagi, which he inspected from all angles. It was all very exciting to him, but that excitement dimmed a bit when I pointed out the wrapped mummy of a 5,000 year old body. He kinda looked at the wrapped bodies a little cautiously from then on, which was interesting since he had shown a lot of interest a few weeks ago when I had to euthanize my sick, old cat :-(. When I came back from the vet with the body (letting them take care of it would have been horribly impersonal and careless), he actually asked to see the body. I’ve also been careful about not creating any sort of fear regarding things that are supernatural like telling him that ghosts might get him or some crap like that since exacerbating or creating any sort of fear is just plain wrong. After that, the one mummy he did look at with interest was one that had been wrapped so carefully that the cloth made cascading and repeating diamond patterns – Boris Karloff would have been WAY jealous.
Next came the first disappointment – the Temple of Dendur was cordoned off. There were speakers set up around it and we were not allowed to go near or inside it. So we went over to the American wing to see the furnished period rooms and met with disappoint #2 – it was closed til 1.15pm (which ended up being the time we left). Then we headed over to Asian Art for disappointment #3 – that was closed as well. Next time I’ll call and make sure what we really want to see is open to the public.
At this point he wanted to go home, most likely due to being a bit intimidated by the museum itself since he wasn’t running around looking at animals, dinosaur bones or gems. He did like looking at Tiffany glass (like his mom, he’s a crow who likes shiny things ;-)), old musical instruments and a couple of period rooms we found (one of which was a 16th century Venetian bedroom that he deemed unsuitable for him since it was too dusty). He did express an interest in sculpture, probably because it’s a physical, three dimensional art. The sculpture he liked the most was one of Perseus & Medusa, fitting since we’ve read Greek myths to him (the D’Aulaires Book of Greek Myths book has been my favorite since I was 8) and he’s enjoyed Clash of the Titans.
Before we left, I made a small detour to the arts of Oceania, Africa and the Americas, hoping to show him some cool boats and costumes from, if I recall correctly, Micronesia or New Guinea, but I can’t say for sure since that exhibit was also closed for renovations (Disappointment #4 for those keeping count). I wish we had spent more time there earlier when he wasn’t tired and wanting to go home as there was a lot of sculpture and more interesting art. A Mayan alter with the face of a cat/snake caught his eye, as did a few other interesting pieces, all of which have background stories that a 4 year old might understand better than Renaissance art. That’s something to remember for the next time, along with calling ahead to find out what’s open.
All in all, it was a pretty positive trip – he’s not against going again provided we can see the room with the ‘moon door’ (as I described the entrance to the Scholar’s Courtyard, based on his description of a couple of my old blocks) and spend more time with things that engage him. I love how he says he thought that everything was cool but can’t name a specific thing – kids!