Sunday, June 12, 2011

Museum Visit: Metropolitan Museum of Art

We visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art with a precocious 3 yr old, and her Mom, to see the Impressionist collection.  To engage their interest, we would teach them to play "The Matching Game," an art treasure hunt. We would buy "postcards" in the Museum store and then hunt for the original paintings in the galleries. Our 3 year old would lead the treasure hunt.

Here is she is arriving at the Met.

We began "The Matching Game" at the Museum store. They would select postcards of three Impressionist paintings. We would then hunt for the original paintings in the Impressionist galleries. 

They studied all the Impressionist paintings and chose three they loved:

Van Gogh’s Sunflowers

a Degas Ballerina

and Monet's famous Japanese Bridge.

We were enchanted with “William,” the little blue hippo from Egypt, and decided to add him to our treasure hunt. We would search for him in the Egyptian Wing, near the Temple of Dendur.

First lunch. (It's always good to begin a visit to a Museum with lunch. Don't forget dessert.) We took the elevator down to the Met's informal restaurant, and discovered a fresh salad bar and lots of delicious-looking desserts. We nibbled our salads and studied our postcards.

After lunch, it was time to start our game. We took an elevator to the second floor and quickly located the Impressionist galleries. 

We found Van Gogh's Sunflowers immediately. Delighted, we held up our postcard. “Matchy, matchy” we sang proudly.

Then we found the painting of the Degas Ballerina.

We found Monet's "Japanese Bridge" in the next gallery. “Matchy, matchy.”

Inspired by the art around her, our little 3 year old wanted to draw. Her Mom took out a small drawing pad and some colored pencils. They sat down on the round sofa in the center of the gallery and drew some some colorful lines and circles.

We wanted to see Mike and Doug Starn's construction, “Big Bambu,” on the Met's roof and took the elevator up to the roof terrace where the sculpture was being constructed daily.

It was a wild-looking tangle of bamboo sticks lashed together with cords. We were a little wary. "Can it fall?". We headed toward a nice, secure bench, and looked at “Bambu” from a safe distance. We enjoyed the glorious New York views, and nibbled on some pretzels.

After a while, we were ready to take the elevator down to the lobby to search for “William,” the blue hippo, in the Egyptian Wing.

We found the little  “William” sculpture in the corner of one of the Egyptian galleries. “Matchy, matchy,” we said holding up our postcard.

We walked on,  and took photos next to the gigantic Egyptian sculptures.

We turned a corner and were surprised to see the Temple of Dendur. The Temple sits in a soaring space designed by the architect Kevin Roche. (Roche also designed the entrance stairs to the museum.) A large, sloping, glass wall floods the gallery with daylight. A reflecting pool invites you to toss a penny into the water and make wish. We walked over to  the little Temple and explored it inside and out.

Our visit was coming to a close. We left the Egyptian Wing and walked through the lobby toward the main entrance. Our little explorer asked if we could play "The Matching Game" every time we visited the Museum."   As we left, we dropped our little metal Metropolitan buttons into the recycling box.

Outside in the bright sunlight, we stood at the top of the grand stairway at the entrance to the Met.

Jazz singers entertained the crowd on the steps. We sat down and listened for a while. Finally, ready to leave, tired and happy, we walked down to the street and caught the Fifth Avenue bus home. 

When we got home, we put our postcards up on our art wall. It was the beginning of our own art collection, reminders of our exciting day at the Met.

How to Play the "Matching Game"

Look for some postcard reproductions of the paintings in the permanent collections in the Metropolitan Museum of Art's store. Select a few of your favorites and then hunt for them in the galleries. 

You can pick up a map of the galleries at the Information Desk. Check there for a list of daily events and special activities for children.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is open on weekdays and Sundays, from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm, and until 9:00 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. It is closed on Mondays.

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