Many years ago I took a trip to Paris to visit my brother. When I was visiting the Louvre, I came across a school field-trip – about twenty 5- or 6-year-olds. There were doing a scavenger hunt, looking for objects in the paintings in one of the galleries in the museum of impressionism. I remember smiling as a couple of kids matched the image on their sheet with Pommes et oranges. A masterpiece. A game. How amazing it is, I thought to myself, that the mundane backdrop of these children’s lives is this painting, this museum, and this city with all of the richness it offers.
This morning I was a parent chaperone for Mei-mei’s first grade trip to the MoMA. The children observed only 3 paintings while at the museum. We started with Christina’s World:
The children interpreted the painting with the guide, and then did a worksheet in which they attributed words to Christina.
Then it was The Sleeping Gypsy.
The kids interpreted that painting as well, and noted the move away from the realism of Wyeth.
Then The Hunter (Catalan Landscape). An entirely abstract piece.
The kids were absolutely focused on the paintings they were studying. As they sat in a circle on the floor in front of The Sleeping Gypsy, they engaged their guide in a lengthy discussion of the piece. Just a few feet behind them and to the left, situated alone on a small wall in the center of the gallery, hung The Starry Night.
As the children walked away from The Sleeping Gypsy, I caught Mei-mei’s attention. It seemed a waste to not even see it. I nodded my head toward the painting. She knows The Starry Night quite well from her art curriculum back in Montpelier. She smiled and gave me a thumbs up as, through the crowds, she glanced at the masterpiece.
How amazing it is, I thought to myself, that the mundane backdrop of my children’s lives is this painting, this museum, and this city with all of the richness it offers.