It’s “Mid-winter break” this week – that’s half term to the rest of us – and T is off school. So yesterday we planned a ‘specially day’ to the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Fifth Avenue with one of her school friends.
T’s now old enough to handle a day out without the pushchair, as long as there’s not too much walking (always a risk in Manhattan). The subway is a breeze with one child on foot, and we reached 86th Street station without mishap. A quick five minute walk down Museum Mile along the edge of Central Park, and we met our friends at the museum.
The entrance hall has a marvelous statue of a pharaoh right as you enter the doors, and T immediately gravitated towards it, curious as to who he was. From there, it seemed natural to start with the Egyptian galleries.
It was really amazing to watch T experience her first Egyptian Mummy. She’s come across references to them on telly, so understood the concept of bodies wrapped up in bandages which may or may not suddenly come to life and chase you. She was therefore v wary at first, and kept touching the glass to check it was still there. But after a few minutes of intense concentration, she relaxed into it and was soon darting through the gallery with her friend.
There were some astonishingly well preserved Mummy masks displayed as portraits, including one of a young Egyptian boy. Tried to explain to T that he had been alive about three thousand years ago. Not sure she really understood, we’re still working on the difference between seconds, minutes and hours at the moment.
There were masses of animal paintings and carvings throughout the gallery to keep their attention, including one wall painting that she described as “a sad leopard and a sneaky snake”, which seemed spot on.
My friend and I were amused by the pair of enormous sculptures of the goddess Sakhmet, who’s lion face apparently represents the forces of violence, disaster and illness. I feel that way myself, some mornings, when struggling to get the girls ready for the school run…
The kids particularly loved the carved wooden figures that have been discovered in tombs, many of which were larger than them.
After they’d had their fill of Egypt, we wandered on to the Greek and Roman galleries, and they had a wonderful time rushing from sculpture to statue, examining each one and noticing where limbs had broken off.
T made me blush when she called out, “Look, Mummy, this one’s got no head or arms, but you can see he’s a boy as he’s still got his willy. That’s lucky.” “Mmmmmm,” I murmured, and ushered her on, trying not to catch anyone’s eye.
They were both v interested in a matching pair of bronze babies chasing partridges, with the most unsettling eyes. Have clearly been watching too much of The Walking Dead, as I found them far too creepy to linger near.
There are several cafes dotted around the museum, though not all are open during winter. We chose the American Wing Cafe, (passing a real Viking sword on the way), and refuelled on the classically New York fare of bagels and turkey ham sandwiches.
It struck me that the Met has managed to resist scattering shops throughout the galleries (unlike the American Museum of Natural History, which springs them on you without warning, triggering excessive amounts of tears and drama when toys are refused).
Afterwards, we headed into Central Park to run around and stretch our legs. It felt so good to let off steam outside with no traffic or grimy, brown, slushy snow. The Upper West Side looked amazing across the frozen pond.
All in all, an utterly magical, specially day out.
Tips if you’re visiting with your own kids:
- It’s quite expensive. $25 is the suggested donation per adult, but kids under 12 go free
- Coat check is free, but there’s a long queue to both drop off and collect your clobber
- Try to pick just one or two galleries to explore, it can rapidly get a bit overwhelming as room after room unfold
- The website offers several family guides to help you pick where to go
- There are plenty of lifts if you decide to bring your pushchair, and baby change facilities dotted about
This week’s Highs & Lows:
High: B has started to sing recognisable nursery rhymes. My heart completely melts when I overhear her singing the Alphabet song, Incy Wincy Spider or the Wheels On the Bus to her precious bunnies. She’s also been having a go at some Frozen tracks. “Let it gooooooooooo”.
Low: T’s accent is definitely on the move. She’s switching the ‘T’ sound for a ‘D’ in words such as ‘beautiful’ and ‘water’ and is using phrases like ‘Wait up, guys!” C and I are torn between pulling her up on it and just accepting it. I myself have occasionally said ‘super’ instead of ‘very/really’. As in “Wow, that was super-fast”. Sigh.