The weather in New York wasn’t great during our stay. We didn’t go up the Empire State Building because whenever we looked up at it with the idea we might, we saw this:
So when an indoor day was called for, we decided to head for MoMA.
You can get a free audio guide from a desk at the museum, and it’s like a mini iPad. You can dial up the artwork you’re looking at (they have numbers next to them for reference) and hear about its history – many of them have special audio for kids as well. You can take photos, and you can search for particular artworks and find them on a museum map. Then at the end of your visit it can email you all your photographs and a summary of your visit – which galleries you visited, what you saw and so on. It’s great!
Of course, the children were far more interested in having an audio guide than in actually looking up to see the art on the walls. I kept begging them to “just look!”. There are also Art Cards you can collect from the Family Desk which highlight a single piece of art each, with an activity to do either at the museum or at home. This is great for a big museum; it’s much easier to have a purpose and things to do, than just to walk around aimlessly trying to soak in everything.
We spent a long time on the 5th floor looking at the classics – van Gogh, Picasso, Monet, Rousseau…
… a woman stopped and spoke to me about how amazing it was to see a young child so absorbed in the art, as Babess listened to the kids’ audio. Then Babess finished listening and carefully explained the artwork to me. Even more adorable.
The kids weren’t so interested in the 4th floor of American art, although Fainjin thought the Jackson Pollock works were pretty cool. We saw the Bell Helicopter on the third floor, then the kids discovered a display on Minecraft and we nearly lost them altogether despite us pointing out that they can watch Minecraft almost anywhere.
So we headed down to the Art Lab, next to the Sculpture Garden. I would happily pay admission to the museum in future just to go to the Art Lab. It is a bright, welcoming space full of amazing things to do, with quiet places to sit and read and loads of opportunity for creative endeavour. I said, “I’m so glad we have kids with us so we can come here!” and the assistant laughed and assured me there’s no age limit – you don’t need a child with you to go into the Art Lab (although it is very well set up for children).
Pearl spent her whole time making a stop-motion film, which we were then able to share on YouTube (if you know us in real life & want to see, let me know – it’s under her real name). Fainjin & Babess enjoyed making films too but also explored the rest of the lab, reading books, making mini-sculptures and playing with the toys and activities. We were in the lab for over an hour and would have stayed longer except it was after 3pm and we hadn’t had lunch!
From there it was a short walk to Times Square where we secured tickets to Matilda The Musical for that night. Then we went for an early dinner at a nearby restaurant and wandered for bit before the show. We ended up having a great chat with a mounted officer of the NYPD, who was very friendly. He and his partner were clearly on PR duty, chatting with tourists and posing for photos.
The show was great, a very enjoyable performance from a mostly very-young cast. Babess appears to have learned a couple of the songs just from watching the show, so we have been listening to them over and over…
It was a very late night, but on the way home, we saw not one but two Empire State Buildings…
© UpsideBackwards 2014.