In keeping up with our resolution to see more art this year, I wanted to spend last Saturday at one of the major museums. When I brought up MoMA with the girls, I was surprised to hear that neither of them really remembered which museum I was referring to. Had it really been that long? I remember chaperoning a field trip during preschool 2 years ago, but maybe that really was the last time. Once we got to MoMA, each of them remembered certain things like the sculpture garden and the helicopter suspended from the ceiling, but this visit really was a new experience for them and one where Claudine has been asking to go back soon ever since.
The Inventing Abstraction Show, which runs through April 15th, really is worth a visit (no photography allowed at the show so the photos here are from other exhibits). I do have to admit that years of art history study in high school and college, particularly the ones where weekly museum classes were mandatory, may have desensitized me to artwork from certain periods. I think because the association with certain artists and works were closely tied with school and curriculum, I was never too interested in seeing another Monet or Kandinsky. I think a certain amount of distance cures that because the Abstraction show which focuses on art and musical works produced in a 15 year period from 1910-1925 was truly fantastic. I was particularly enamored with the Malevich paintings, whose work I had always loved, but it’s been quite a number of years since I’ve seen his graphic paintings up close. As in many cases with abstract artworks, print or web reproductions don’t really serve the works justice.
Mark was thrilled because the show drew the connections between some of the early 20th century composers to the artists of this era. Original scores of compositions from Schoenberg and Varese were displayed and pieces played in listening rooms or through speakers directly overhead the musical scores. There was a certain first time thrill to seeing these scores in person from composers that we had studied and even modeled some of our compositions after.
But the one thing that made the museum visit completely engaging for the girls? Getting those handheld audio tours, something that we never thought to do. MoMA had fun kid-specific audio commentary for select artworks in their permanent collection and so it became like a scavenger hunt to find the kid icons on the plaques of as many artworks as they could find. The audio tours kept them completely engaged and provided a structure in which to view the art and they even enjoyed the regular adult tours for the special exhibitions. Long after Mark and I were “done” with the museum, the girls wanted to keep going. It sort of became a game for me too as I started anticipating or guessing which of the artworks in each gallery room might have kid commentary.
I feel like this was really the first museum outing where we spent 4-5 hours taking our time to really look at the art. The girls admittedly weren’t too excited when I announced that we were going to MoMA that morning, but it turned out to be such a great day with a leisurely lunch at the cafe. Such a far cry from spending an hour chasing after your toddler making sure she isn’t touching anything she shouldn’t be touching. I think we have finally arrived at the age where the kids are perfect museum companions.
Incidentally, the couple seated next to us at lunch was a grandfather and his grand daughter, probably around age 8 or 9. It was clear that they were having a museum date, just the 2 of them. One of the sweetest things I’ve seen in awhile.
ps. that yellow glowing square up there in the first few photos? Can you guess what it is? I bet you can’t. It’s pollen from hazelnut. Crazy.