Friday, February 5, 2010

Kicking and Screaming - The Culture Experiment, Part 2

The weekend between the AFC and NFC Championship Games and the Super Bowl creates a sports wasteland for me.  Still not ready to settle for some uninspired NBA and NHL games and six weeks before March Madness, this particular weekend fills my soul with an unimaginable void.  All right, it's not that bad, but my Sunday afternoon had to be filled with something, anything to get over the loneliness.  My thought was to treat this weekend as an anti-sports weekend, Sunday included.  Boston has a vibrant arts scene; we used to partake in all of activities years ago when we lived in Town.  A little bit of culture wouldn't hurt the kids...probably.

It didn't start out as I had planned.  Saturday afternoon consisted of watching Dangerous Dan and Oh Cosmo lead the Boston Blazers in Major League Indoor Lacrosse.  Originally, I was thinking about taking my seven year old to the ICA in South Boston, but when he asked me if we were going into Town to see the Celtics or the Bruins, I decided on the fly that we had to see sports, not modern art.  I couldn't bring a disappointed child to see Modern Art, that could lead to catastrophe.  I guess the full weekend of the Culture Experiment would have to wait until the beginning of August, when the next sports wasteland emerges.  But Sunday was a different day.  After carefully considering our options, we decided to drag, er voluntarily escort, the children to the Museum of Fine Art. Would we take a wrong turn or two? (Yes.)  Would it take 20 minutes of driving around the Fenway to find parking? (Yes.)  Would there be screaming, crying and general crankiness from the long night the night before? (Yes.)

12pm.  Boston, MA.  After pissing off the valet attendant by driving up the valet parking lot not once or twice, but three times, we hopped out of the car to make our way inside.  I have to admit, the giant creepy baby heads adorning the back entrance of the MFA scares children and adults alike.  What the hell is going on here? 

A couple of jokes later, all 5 of head finally inside.  Wait, it costs $20 bucks to get inside?  I remember when it used to be free admission with a (not-so-subtle) request to make a donation - similar to the request for a donation I receved when we moved into our North End apartment 15 years earlier.  We look at each other and telepathically decide that the children will enjoy themselves for at least two hours - whether they like it or not.

The MFA is currently undergoing renovations, so the back entrance was a makeshift labyrinth of white walls and hopeful photographs of what the MFA will look like when the renovations are complete.  Just like law school, my money is going to the enjoyment of others in a new building.  That's okay though because the children immediately go nuts when they are told of the game where they look for and match up the ancient Greek coins from the fake plastic coins they are given.

"Can we keep the coins when we find them?" my 5 year old asks me as he examines the fake plastic replicas.  How charming that he knows the value of money at such a young age - perhaps I should alert his grandparents.  Well at least that permits us to go to the ancient world exhibits, which includes a room with Egyptian artifacts.  Perhaps I will gain some insight into the Lost mythology if I can spend some time studying the mummies, hieroglyphics and ankhs.

Well that ended up taking all of 5 minutes.  The coins were all in the same display case before we even walked into the ancient Greek art exhibit.  We looked at the coins, answered a few questions and moved on to the Early American Period. 

Noting that we had three young children accompanying us, guess where we spent the most time in this Exhibit?  Right - at the painting illustrating a naked man getting eaten by a shark.  After answering a multitude of questions - "Where is that guy's clothes?  Why aren't they pulling him out of the water?  Will sharks eat us when we go the beach?  I ask why none of the boats in the immediate background of this painting are lending any assistance.  "If they are so smart, let those stupid Yankees figure this out for themselves." I decide the men in these other boats are thinking.

A little bit more walking around after the American Exhibit and here we are to the highlight of the trip.  The escalator ride up to the second floor!  The kids start running and screaming.  The children are delighted (I would be more descriptive, but we ARE in a museum).  As we walk down the Second Floor corridor, we stop to watch an ingenius exhibit - 50 TV screens stacked in an array with different people all singing the same Madonna songs.  We hear Borderline, Lucky Star and Crazy For You.  The adults were thoroughly entertained, that's for sure.  In fact, I would have stayed until they sang "Into the Groove," but with kids growing up to Beyonce and Black Eyed Peas, this is absolutely trite.  We had to move on to the last exhibits.

Impressionism really isn't my thing, but that's where we can find Monet, Cassatt and the other famous European artists.  The MFA has an impressive collection.  The kids are interested as well, they have to learn about Van Gogh and Cassatt in school, and it reinforces their learning if they actually see some of the works that they are studying; at least that is what I think. 

After 20 minutes in there, we finally have to leave for the obligatory meal.  And we only had to be spoken to once by a security guard?  Fantastic!

In the car on the way out, we ask what their favorite parts were.  We hear the search for the coins, Madonna and of course the naked man getting eaten by the shark.  We still talk about the ginat baby heads.  The Culture Experiment, while cut in half, was a success.  Pass me a beer. 

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