Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Museum of Fine Arts

I didn't plan too many activities for February break.  I find that by February, what my children usually want to do is just relax, play and not do homework.  With the exception of playing, I usually find myself wanting the same things from the winter holiday.  I did decide that after two years, it was time for us to revisit the MFA in Boston.  The MFA is a wonderful place to lose yourself for a few hours -- and you will indeed lose yourself as the galleries are more maze-like than you would think.  The goal for children visiting the museum is to find a few paintings that they can focus on for more than a few seconds and absorb enough details so as to recognize it on a postcard in the bookshop.  Some children do not enjoy an art museum, but luckily, my children are not included in this bunch.  They enjoy wandering the various wings, winding their way through the myriad galleries and they love both the cafeteria in the basement and the bookshop.   In other words, they like a good adventure.

We took two trains to get to the museum and I considered it a great victory that not one of my children licked any surface during the entire journey.  The last time we went to the MFA, I caught Georgia and Josie with their tongues out, tasting the window panes of the Boston T.  I was so very proud.

We started our tour in the Ancient Art wing and saw many hieroglyphics and sarcophagi.

Next we headed into the American wing and began our search for our "favorite" painting.  I've found that the best way to keep a child interested in an art museum is to allow them to buy a postcard of their "favorite" painting at the end.  Henry, Georgia and Josie take this task very seriously.  Many, many paintings are examined and evaluated before they chose their absolute favorite.  And if they learn something about art along the way, that is not my fault.

This year, Henry chose this rather gruesome painting:

John Singleton Copley's Watson and the Shark

Georgia picked a John Singer Sargent painting entitled, The Master and His Pupils

Josie, as always, had a hard time narrowing the search to just one item.  She already owns the postcard of her favorite, Sargent's The Daughters of Edward D. Boit (see above), so she chose a Renoir postcard in the gift shop (Girls Picking Flowers in a Meadow).  We didn't actually see the Renoir at the museum because after two hours of walking, we were exhausted and ready for a snack.

Henry and Josie waiting for the elevator to take us to the cafeteria.  This bench looked like it was made of ice.

After a quick ice cream break, we went to a gallery I must have passed last time around:  a textile exhibit of Arnold Scassi couture.  I didn't buy a postcard, but had I done so, I would have chosen one from this exhibit.  It reminded me of a tiny version of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of New York, which is one of my favorite places in Manhattan. 

Here is Scassi's outfit for Barbra Streisand.  She wore it at the Oscars.

The rest of these photos are just dresses I thought were beautiful.

During school vacation weeks, the MFA conducts a children's program that includes various projects.  Since the last time, I had gotten away with saying the children were too young to participate, this time I had no excuse.  After checking out the options, Henry, Georgia and Josie chose to do the activity offered in the European Art gallery.  The assignment was to color in one of the four pictures they had outlined on a piece of cardstock and then create a frame out of craft supplies found on the table.

The children all hunkered down and created.  I entertained myself by admiring the art on the walls and thinking about what to serve for dinner.  This project was WAY too long and complicated and we all agreed to leave once the kids had finished. 

It was another enjoyable trip to the MFA.

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