- Trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met)
- Go to a Yankees game
- Explore the southern coast of Maine
- Take my kids to the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.
Item #1 crossed off my late-summer bucket list. (See the Pop-Tart Post)
In 1967, E.L. Konigsburg published the delightful children's classic, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. I read the book as a child, my almost 13 year-old read it around age 10, and my 9 1/2 year old finished it a few weeks ago. If you're not familiar with the story, it's about a brother and sister who run away and live, undetected, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. It's a great book; in addition to the children discovering lots of things about themselves, a fun mystery materializes in the form an "angel statue."
The book has been so popular over the last couple of generations, that The Met produced something of a "Mixed-Up Files" guide in its magazine, Museum Kids, some years ago. There are several items in the museum that were referred to in the book, or were featured in the story, and the objective is to find those items. Not easy in a place the size of The Met!
We decided to take a trip to the museum, and since we've all read the book, challenge ourselves to a little scavenger hunt.
Here's what we found!
The book's characters spent a lot of time in the Egyptian galleries, so that's where we started. It's not hard to get lost...we wedged ourselves into the tiny corridors and tight spaces of the Tomb of Perneb.
The first item on our scavenger hunt was a piece of Egyptian jewelry owned by the Princess Yunet. If you decide to do this exact same "hunt" be aware that the Museum Kids issue is out-dated and a few of the items have been moved. This only adds to the fun, because it forces you to ask questions and consult the museum map (a valuable activity in itself!)
Finally, after much wandering (this is also valuable as you inadvertently see much more than you had bargained for, such as, the incredibly cool and unusual);
The next item also gave us some trouble, as it had been removed for care-taking. That would be a bronze sculpture of a cat that was used to hold a mummified...cat! Again, after asking for directions, we found the case where the cat normally resides.
After an hour or so on the Egyptian side, it was time to roam around in the American Wing. Specifically, the Charles Englehard Court. Fountains play a big role in the book, and although the Fountain of Muses is no longer on display, it might have looked a little bit like this one:
When the children ran away to the museum, they needed some place to crash at night. A bed hung with blue silk curtains, in the Aitken Galleries, might have been similar to the one they chose. This particular bed was made in England more than three hundred years ago for a baron who was friends with William III. Elegant, no?
Now we've spent all this time at The Met, and have only wandered past a few paintings by accident. Time to indulge Mom and head to the Impressionist Wing in the European Paintings section found on the second floor. A few of my favorite:
And I'm a sucker for Van Gogh's use of vibrant color:
By this time, we were melting into the marble floors and in need of refreshment. Bring your gold card, the museum cafeteria will cost you a small fortune. After some food and drink, we decided to choose a random gallery to explore. My youngest chose the Musical Instruments Gallery on the third floor. Alas, we never made it. We were delayed in this lovely replica of a Chinese pavilion.
If you can't visit The Met anytime soon, you can read the book and check out this very snazzy virtual tour of the museum. It's almost as good as being there...almost.
The Met is not just about paintings, although it houses some of the world's best. Understanding that every man made object has the potential to be considered a work of art is very powerful -- from the smallest, inconsequential item (an ancient pair of Egyptian tweezers) to a towering choir screen from a cathedral that consumes an entire hall, our collective experiences as human beings can be found in every room, in every corner, on every wall. There isn't enough time in one day, even in one lifetime to understand it all.
Look around you; discover the art in your life. It might end up in a museum...one day.