Art is Life
Pearl of the Post: Life is Art
As far as staycations go, New York is a great place to live.
I had this brilliant idea for my family to spend a day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art so my kids would have an immersive educational and very off line experience to compliment and reinforce what they're learning in school.
My daughter has a colonial (American) fair and project due. My son's studying the early civilizations of Babylon, Mesopotamia and Egypt and has an upcoming project on Egypt's Pyramid of Giza.
I was excited to add another dimension to their learning and bring their studies to life during our day at the museum. So on a freezing cold NY winter's day over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, we headed into the city. We scored a truly miraculous parking spot off Madison. Believe you me, that was historic in and of itself.
The admission lines trailed up the block. I don't ever recall seeing the lines so long there.
Fortunately my hubs had the bright idea to check whether it made more sense to purchase a family membership versus paying the daily admission. We used to be members and visit the museum regularly when we lived in the city but not so much since hitting the suburbs.
As Museum members we were able to circumvent the outrageous line and enter via the members entrance. There was still a line for tickets but it was a infinitesimal sliver of the general admission lines (in the freezing cold, did I say that already?). It's the little things like that in a 16 year marriage that actually turn me on.
I had a feeling my daughter would not be so into our family adventure. To prepare for this likely reality, I had a side bar with my hubs before we left for the city alerting him to the fact that he may have to entertain her while my son and I attended to business.
I had this picture in my head that as we explored the Met, my son would take out his textbook and notebook and check things off the list and have lots of now I get it AHA! moments.
About 50 paces into our journey through history and right on cue, my daughter began complaining. She's tired, hungry, her legs ached, yada yada. The hubs stepped in and whisked her away to the American wing for a quick glimpse into colonial life and style followed by a visit to the cafe.
And then there were two.
My son and I entered the Egyptian wing.
I've always had a thing for Ancient Egypt and its magical and mystical practices (minus the whole slavery chapter). I did a (very) quick stint studying hieroglyphics which was interesting and fun. Don't ask me to recall anything cuz that information has long flew the coup.
I was ready to geek out.
Unfortunately, we didn't see any Pyramid of Giza exhibits. We did see lots of writings, art, pottery, jewelry, mummies - lots and lots and lots of mummies - and the magical Temple of Dendur room. My son got the tips he needed for the mummy organ jars for his project. He was amazed that the displays were actual relics and the Temple of Dendur remains were plucked from it's original site and transported to the heart of New York City.
His eyes widened in the Arms and Armory exhibit. He wondered how anything could penetrate some of seemingly impervious amor. I was enamored with the elaborate detailing of the metal work. General rule of thumb being, the more ornate and fancy, the higher born the owner.
I remember visiting the Met many times with my parents as a child. My mom is an Art Major/Teacher/Enthusiast and loved honing in on the styles, techniques and stories behind the art and artists. I'd hold out through my mom's seemingly never ending informationals for the "naked statue" room.
The naked room always made the trip worth while (I kept the pics here PG - sorry to disappoint ;).
On this journey as the momma bear, my eye gravitated towards something different. In every cultural wing, you essentially saw the same things, just interpreted in different ways ~ writings, pottery, housing/land depictions, jewelry, transportation, conflicts, deities, a few famous faces.... The differences being the colors, materials and textures. Marble carvings from Rome, bamboo carvings in Japan, teak wood in China, stone in Egypt, clay in some others (totally forgot which), etc.
This was a teachable moment to point out to my son the pearl of how we are different, but the same.
Each chapter of his textbook essentially tells the same story and sequence of events. Nutshell version - people settle on lands, use the surrounding materials to build homes, develop towns and rely on natural resources for food. You trade what your land provides as currency. The type of homes, foods and clothes depends upon your location and what's around. Taking food as the example, you're eating fish if you're by the sea, plants, crops and animals if you're landlocked.
As societies built up, became more populated and drew upon more resources you probably started to get territorial with your neighbors. Eventually there's a fight for more power, access to natural resources and passages for travel. Then there's a war or two and the cycle continues - re-settle in conquered/acquired territory, harvest the resources..... rinse and repeat.
He got it. He's ready for college on his mommas historical knowledge.
Ultimately, my son left with more questions about the Pyramid of Giza than the museum was able to answer and would have to continue his research online (sigh). However, what he saw led to other questions and he was inspired to research other points in history.
Aha, he achieved a little enlightenment and enrichment after all!
I'll chalk that up to a Mom win.
I left with an admiration for all the mothers who have ever walked this Earth. There were depictions of mother and child in each corner of the world. The sacredness of this relationship was very apparent.
Humans are one big giant extended family and I felt a kinship with these historical mommas. I also wondered how the heck did they do the whole mother hood thing back in their day without access to modern first world conveniences. They were even more reliant on their community and everyone fulfilling their roles and honoring social codes.
We are all walking artists painting our mark on history on the human timeline from our respective corners of the world. :)
(c) 2018 Cynthia Litman. All Rights Reserved
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Note: The Photos include artwork on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art which may be subject to copyright. I regret to say that I did not capture each of the pieces name, artist and year. You'll have to go visit and scout for them at the Met!!