I recall my first years in New York and the love affair I enjoyed with all the museums. Every Sunday was my special day to explore and these days often ending on the steps of the Met with a cappuccino from a nearby cafe on Madison, watching the city go by into evening.
This summer we embarked on a family summer museum program - kid style! Various museums to explore art as well as historical and/or scientific subjects. Monkey is old enough to ask questions and become truly engaged in areas that interest him in an entirely new way - it is such a pleasure to feed that curiosity and expand his experiences! Even though we have visited the Museum of Natural History and the Met a hundred times, this summer was somehow the magic age.
Van Gogh was a favorite.
Every other weekend we select a subject and location. For example, the Egyption section when we completed the last Percy Jackson novel. We poured over my old Greek art books from college beforehand and he was able to identify colums and pottery styles on his own. Woo ha!
Last weekend we decided on European paintings with a scavenger hunt for boats as subjects at the Met. We could easily overwhelm him with lots of info and I didn't want to do that. No preaching. I really wanted him to explore on his own and decide what he likes best. So we came up with a game - each picking the art or object that we like the most. At the Met, mine has always been the same - an enormous work by Theodore Rousseau that makes my heart pound. Monkey surprised me by selecting two paintings.
The first was The Virgin Adoring the Host by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres
He said that he loved the colors and "the sweetness of her face".
The Second was 1807 Friedland by Earnest Meissonier. He liked the "realness of all the horses and soldiers". A Napoleon victory, I did agree with the exquisite details and it was an interesting study.
So even though I only gave us a few hours and tried to limit us to one floor, we ended up exploring a lot more after lunch, led by a little boy and his whims. Not such a big surprise? He loved Modern Art. An area that we hadn't spent much time in before.
Here are our favorites:
This amazing work called Dusasa II by an African sculptor named El Anatsue. It is a giant net made from found aluminum, copper wire and seals from liquor bottles, with plastic caps.
We also noted and loved how interested he was in architecture. Asking a million questions about how artists and builders created columns, gates, armour etc...and the Met does a great job of providing educational support. All those hours with Legos seem to have a purpose now...
So next trip is to MOMA to explore more Calder and Pollack, avoiding the more avante garde areas that he is too young to see or for us to explain. And a return to the Met to visit the American Wing. This is such a fun age and this is our best summer ever, just exploring the world through his eyes and following his interests. So his summer is not just about camp and trips to the beach (which are still pretty terrific). Not totally about following his every desire, either.
If so we would be in Legoland right now.