Thursday, October 23, 2008

El Greco To Velasquez - Or, Fun at the Art Museum with a Toddler

We went on a field trip today to the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, to see the El Greco to Velasquez exhibit. The art is from the 1600's in Spain, during the reign of Philip III. It was during the time of the Spanish Inquisition, so the art is very Catholic and mystical. El Greco was known for painting his people tall and thin, almost ethereal.

But I digress. When we got there, I learned that I would not be able to take the stroller in for the baby, nor would they allow me to put him in the backpack. That discovery was a bit disconcerting. It had not occurred to me that I wouldn't be able to contain him in some fashion. (For the record, the museum does have this information posted on their website, and my friend Betsy who organized the trip also told us in her email. I did not read either of these pieces of information. The situation was entirely my fault and I do accept responsibility.) Oh well, I thought, I will just hold his hand, or pick him up when we stop to look at a painting.

When we got to the door, the very nice docent told us that there were lines on the floor that told us how far away we should be from the painting. Lines on the floor? Um - okay. We went in and sure enough, there were lines approximately 18 inches from the paintings. Some of them did have low, stretchy wire barriers around them to enforce the distance rule. Most of the paintings were not covered in glass. I had visions of priceless artwork covered in toddler slobber.

It quickly became apparent that Isaac was not interested in holding my hand. When I would try to grab his, he would flap his hands in the air and move away from me as fast as his little legs would go. When I tried to hold him, he said "NA NA NA NA NA NA!" in a loud, so-not-interested-in-quiet-perusal-of-fine-art tone of voice. He seemed to view the galleries as large, fairly open obstacle courses and took delight in careening around the other patrons, most of whom were older, child-free, and attempting to listen to the audio guide for the exhibit. When I noticed a (very kind) security guard following us, I decided it was probably time for Isaac and I to find something else to do.

Betsy, bless her, took her 2 boys (and her baby who still fits in a sling), my 2 girls, and our friend Neve's 3 boys through the exhibit. Neve and I took Isaac and her 2 little girls out to play in the grass and sunshine in front of the museum. I was delighted to have paid $15 for my ticket to play in the grass. Heh. Actually, I think it worked out to be a good thing. Betsy had done a lot of research about the exbhibit, because she'd presented on it to our co-op the previous week. And, I am not really a museum kinda gal (as you could probably gather from my cluelessness regarding the stroller situation). I did purchase the "book" - which has pictures of the art I missed plus a lot of history. We've enjoyed looking at it and discussing what we learned. Or, what they learned.

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