Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Day at the Museum

I love it when my children surprise me. Last spring my 16 year old announced that he signed up for an Art History AP course. I think the look of shock on my face made him blurt, "what, you thought I was stupid?" "Not, stupid," I wanted to reply, "but,'re a jock." Instead I think I recovered with some uninspiring remark like, "Oh, that is wonderful!"

Well there is hope and I guess testosterone isn't poisonous after all! Raising 3 boys while surreptitiously force feeding them the kinder and gentler aspects to life without altering their natural DNA was really tough. I guess hours of museum tours really did rub off even if they sulked and complained along the way.

John Vanderlyn (1775-1852) Panorama: Palace and Gardens of Versailles Oil

For Andrew's summer assignment, he had to write about an exhibit at any New York museum. He chose the above panorama. He first saw this exhibit when I took him and a group of 8 or so very disappointed boys to the Metropolitan Museum of Art when they were in 5th grade. The day was turning out to be a real challenge when I had to deviate from my original plan and try a more "guerrilla" approach.

I took them up to the roof garden and bought them all sodas (bribe 1), hoping to get them to look at the giant and weird Abakanowicz sculptures.

As a bonus, on the roof of the MET you get a great view of Central Park

Then I took them to see the nudes (bribe 2), where they whispered and giggled.


I reluctantly took them past the gallery of Arms and Armor, I felt I had to show them the diversity of images that can be found in one building if only they would look. Of course this got their attention, what is it with the pageantry of war?

Japan 18th century Bamen Tomotsugu

It was after the Arms exhibit that I noticed that they were now open to "see" and they all were eager to move through each room to see more. They were on an adventure, they were now art connoisseurs moving through history. But, it was at the John Vanderlyn Panorama where they all stopped. One of the boys began turning around in slow motion. The others watched him wondering what he saw and they tried to see it too. My 5th grade Andrew asked him, what was going on.

"I was there!" Exclaimed the boy.
"Dude, no way, that's like from a long time ago." They all seemed to say together.
"Yea, and that place is still there, I was standing like right over there." The boy brought the others to the scene of the fountains and they all stood looking. Why even a few adults came over and started staring too. I think this is where my Andrew was changed. This was when he fell in love with art.

My now 11th grade Art History AP student

It was a great day that day 6 years ago. And, it is still paying dividends!

Me, Georgia and sweet georgia brown socks.


The Crafty Weasel said...

I worked at the Met for 5 years and I was so relieved to leave. Your post was the first time since November that I felt "Oh I wish I was still working there, we could have had a cup of coffee!". Oh well. I

'm glad you had a great time. It is afterall the second best museum in the world! ;-)

Anonymous said...

LOL, you took your knitting! It's always nice when the guys can appreciate culture. Good job.

Mary Anne said...

What a wonderful, serendity story. I too love art museums. This summer our Vancouver art gallery had an exhibit from the Cleveland Ohio museum - Monet to Dali. My friends went several times and enjoyed it so much.

Love the photo of you with Georgia O'Keeffe's work.

Beatriz said...

What a great story.

Calling on Kahlo said...

I remember looking at Bonnard exhibit at the MOMA and watching a parent and a small child discussing the painting and being mesmerized thinking how wonderful to expose one's children to art at such a young age and engage in it. That is impressive!

Lynn said...

See, you never know what good you do as a mom until MUCH later....Good job mom!!