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A slow stampede through the Monet exhibition


Today I took my 8 year old daughter (I’ll call her M) to the North Carolina Museum of Art to see the big Monet exhibition. Talk about crowded! I suppose the week between Christmas and New Year isn’t the best time to go if you want to avoid the crowds, though it is a good time if you want to take a school-aged child. We worked our way around maybe half of the paintings and then M asked if we could leave the Monet area. I felt ready to go, too. It’s very hard to be contemplative while jockying politely for a good vantage point and worrying whether you’re going to step on someone or be stepped on.

We had a lot more fun out in the general exhibitions.
We walked through the classical sculpture and noticed how most of the noses were knocked off, not to mention other key (male) appendages. We went through the medieval European room and talked about flat images and images with depth. We registered the amazing array of baby Jesuses. We tried to make sense of a gruesome martyrdom—M always insists on a detailed explanation of those. What a fun and eye-opening thing it is to go through a museum with a curious child!

We walked by some big cupidful paintings by “Boucher and studio.” I told M that it’s the 18th century version of Pixie Hollow, though I think Pixie Hollow is probably in better taste.
It surprises me, actually, how unbothered I’ve become about all the Disney and other mass culture stuff that my daughter finds, even barbie.

M likes to watch barbie movies (I try to avoid seeing too much of those), and she also likes to watch Bergman’s movie of The Magic Flute. She’s sensitive to the differences but not too concerned about them, and that seems like a good place for her to be. Maybe when she grows up she’ll be open to seeing beauty and inspiration wherever she happens to run across it.