New Thing #187: Metropolitan Museum of Art

The_MetI've told you about Johnny Tremain. One of my other all-time favorite books that I first read when I was a child is From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L Konigsburg.

In the book, a brother and a sister run away from their home in Greenwich, Connecticut and decide to live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I don't know why it appeals to me so much - maybe because I always look at a place with an eye towards "if I became trapped here, would I be able to survive?" (Or maybe I think that because I read the book.)

Either way, I'm pretty sure it's not because I spent a lot of time at the museum as a kid...because I think Friday, when I visited with my family, was the first time I had been to the museum.

It is certainly possible I took a school field trip to the Met when I was a boy. (I hate to get up on my high horse, but it would be criminal for any New York City school to not take a trip to this museum with all this culture right at their fingertips.)

But if I went, it certainly didn't make an impression. I don't remember. (That's not saying a ton. I remember so little about my elementary school experiences that it's embarrassing. I remember a couple of class plays, I remember studying about the American Revolution in 4th grade, and I remember throwing up in the classroom in 6th grade. But those are stories for another day.)

Anyway, digressions aside, I spent a few hours at the Met Friday afternoon...and I could have spent many, many more. It's incredible. I should mention (one more digression), we went because my oldest daughter (almost 7 years old) wanted to go to a museum. It's fun not only to enjoy going to a museum these days for myself, but also to see my daughter enjoy it so much.

We spent a good deal of our time in the American Wing. I hate to be a homer, but I enjoy American art. Don't be offended - I'm no expert. I'm not even sure I know how to appreciate art. But I know what I find interesting, and I was engaged in the American Wing more than other places.

Thing is, as I mentioned before, we only scratched the surface of this museum. I believe we could go back again and again and still not finish. So maybe there's something else out there that I would love that I just didn't make it to.

The highlight of our time at the Met on Friday - by far - was 'Washington Crossing The Delaware'. I had seen that image before, but nothing prepares you for seeing it up close. First of all, it's huge. I didn't realize that. Secondly, it's breathtaking. It's really really remarkable. I didn't even realize it was at the Met - that surprise factor probably figured into the breathtaking-ness of the painting.

Besides everything there was to see, in my mind there was a lot of trying to figure out what has changed at the Met since From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler was written about 50 years ago. And I spent a lot of time thinking about Claudia and Jamie and where they spent their time. I knew, for instance, that the Egyptian pyramid was one of their hiding spots, but we never made it to the area where they found the bed in which they slept. We saw the grand staircase which is featured in the book, and we saw a fountain by the cafe in the American Wing, but I'm not sure it's the fountain in which they bathed and found their "income."

I'll leave you with this: the area where the American Wing's cafe and the fountain are is beautiful. It's outside this wall that looks like it could be part of the original footprint of the museum. I'm not sure what the history of additions is. But it's an awesome sight. So I'll leave you with that picture while inviting anyone with any knowledge about the Met to tell me what you know. Because I learned a lot in my visit to the Met on Friday afternoon. But there's a whole lot more I want to learn.