Thursday, April 5, 2012

New York City Family Style: Activities—the Metropolitan Museum of Art

We did the Brooklyn Bridge, Staten Island Ferry, 9/11 Memorial, and Top of the Rock in one long day; and we did Central Park and Times Square in a few short hours.

But the Metropolitan Museum of Art got a whole day of its own.

I have wanted to go to the Met since I was about 10 years old and read From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler for the first time. I could hardly imagine anything more delightful than living in a museum (except, perhaps, living on the prairie with Laura Ingalls).

The Met was everything I'd imagined and much, much more. I have been to some amazing art museums, including the Louvre in Paris and the Uffizi Gallery in Florence; but somehow the Met touched me at a deeper level. Could be my age and experience, could be because it's been a lifelong dream. Let's just say it was spectacular.

We prepared for our visit to the Met in a few different ways. Of course I read From the Mixed-up Files to Duncan (Laurel had already read it). We also watched the movie, which was entertaining in its own 70s kind of way. Duncan, who is in 5th/6th grade, has taken art classes for a few years and had experienced many of the artists whose works are displayed in the Met, so there was a wonderful familiarity there for him. Laurel, who is a freshman, is three-fourths of the way through a year-long art appreciation class at our co-op. Their primary textbook is Short Lessons in Art History: Artists and Their Work. She has studied so many of the artists. One of the requirements in the class is that they bring in 4-5 paintings by that week's featured artists, so it was really awesome for her to say, "I chose that painting for my class!" several times in the museum.

We've also read lots of picture books about artists. Some of our favorites are:
I'd like to check out the Anholt's Artists series, which includes Picasso and the Girl with a Ponytail and van Gogh and the Sunflowers, among many other titles. We have plenty of photos from our trip to look back on and say, "Hey! We saw that painting!"

I also did a lot of research on the Met's website. (One important discovery is that the Met is closed on Mondays!) I recorded the locations of the artwork that we absolutely MUST see and took that important piece of paper with me. We also planned our general tour. We knew what we absolutely must see and what we could do without seeing, and that worked out perfectly.

At the Met
We arrived around 10 a.m. Everything I read indicated that the crowds and lines would be terrible, but we did not wait at all. Cost: $25 adults, $12 students, and free for 12 and under, so we paid a total of $62. We did eat our meal in the cafeteria, which was about double what we had hoped to pay. The kids enjoyed eating there and the food was fine, but we felt pretty ripped off. If we do this again, we would choose the American Wing Café, which is pricier but in a sunny spot with nice views, rather than the Cafeteria, which is in the basement.

Once at the Met, we decided to go to the Egyptian wing first because we knew Duncan would be instantly hooked. He was.

We got a good dose of sphinxes, mummies, hieroglyphics, and jewelry before heading off to the European masters. 
 On our way up to the masters on the second floor, we stopped to see lots of sculptures. Duncan couldn't believe we were actually seeing The Thinker!

And then, the masters. Oh, rooms and rooms of Monet, Degas, Renoir, van Gogh, Matisse, Cézanne, Seurat, and so many more! I was in perfect heaven. I was actually overcome with tears to be in the presence of these masterpieces that I have read about most of my life. We spent a huge amount of time in these rooms. Again, I am so happy that Duncan and Laurel have had such a fantastic exposure to artists in their co-op classes for many years now. (Thank you, thank you to Jennifer for her fabulous art classes!) And what an absolutely perfect way to enrich Laurel's year of art history!

I remember Laurel saying here, "I printed off van Gogh's shoes for art class!"

 Eventually, we were sated and Duncan was ready to move on. For an 11-year-old, he was remarkably patient and even quite interested in the masters. But we had promised Arms and Armor next, and did he ever love this section! It was about this time that he asked for the camera, and I have probably 50 images or more of weapons, armor, masks, etc. that he took.

Our last stop was the Modern and Contemporary Art section. We all needed to see some Picasso and were well rewarded.

This is also the section where Duncan loudly exclaimed: "That looks like something a little kid would paint!" Yep. I believe the painting below was the culprit.

I took over 150 photos in the museum, so it's very hard for me to leave you with just these few. But I shall resist. (Yes, you can take photos as long as you don't use a flash.) Actually, I didn't take 150 photos. Around the Arms and Armor section, Duncan took over the camera. It turned out to be a fantastic thing, because he was so interested in taking pictures of every single thing that he forgot to say he was tired or ask if it was time to go. I don't think he asked that even once!

After about five hours at the museum, we'd had enough. We were really tired of walking and standing, so we headed back through Central Park to the subway and then back to our hotel. That evening we had another fantastic meal in "our neighborhood," and our NYC trip came to a close.

Two and a half days, seven hot spots: I think we did a fantastic job of seeing New York City, family style!

Want to see what all we did in NYC? Check out these others posts:
NYC: Lodging, Transportation, and Food
Central Park and Times Square
Brooklyn Bridge, 9/11 Memorial, Staten Island Ferry, Top of the Rock


  1. You were so smart in the way that you planned the trip. It looks as though you had a great time.

  2. I have a feeling Duncan and I would get along famously Sarah! I too love seeing Egyptian antiquities and he said aloud what I often think when looking at some contemporary art:) You are all so fortunate to have experienced this together as a family! There is something so magical about actually seeing artwork in person you have only seen in books!! I hope you have a blessed Easter with your family! Hugs, Robin :)

    1. Robin!! I am always so happy when you comment! You NEED to come visit!

  3. This is awesome! Happy I stumbled across your blog. I am a former art museum educator, so I just love love love to see your family so moved and excited by art. :) I've been to Europe but NEVER to NYC. I think I may try to talk my husband into going to NYC for my birthday in June (without the kids!). I absolutely need to go. Thanks for sharing your experiences.


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