Yesterday my three oldest kids went to a workshop at the San Diego Museum of Art. A docent gave a short talk about elements of art—line, shape, color, etc—and then they split into small groups and went to look at four paintings up close. Afterward, they did an art project focusing on copying details from the paintings they'd viewed. I missed most of the workshop, because I was outside with the little ones. The girls had a splendid time, and Beanie was especially impressed by the dead chicken.
"Huh?" I asked her, ever so articulately, upon receiving this report.
"A dead chicken! In a painting! I saw it, and I drew it!"
I do remember seeing a painting with a dead fowl in it when we first visited the museum. I think it was a duck, not a chicken: Merganser by William Michael Harnett. (I don't know if that link will work—the URL says "index." I don't think the SDMA site has direct URLs to the paintings. But if you're really interested in seeing the deceased bird, you can click around to get there. Beanie thinks it is worth the effort. Me, I prefer a nice landscape with haystacks.)
During the workshop, a couple of the other mothers and I walked down to the Science Center with our little ones. There's a kiddie room upstairs where a mama can park herself on a bench and watch her younguns play with all the interesting toys. Wonderboy loved the air chute made for putting balls in: whoosh! Up goes the ball and pops out the top of the tube. Rilla enjoyed filling the toy shopping cart with plastic fruits and vegetables. It was so easy and pleasant to sit there chatting with my friends while our toddlers and preschoolers bustled around. I remember when I thought tending two little ones in a children's museum was a tiring day's work. Now it's a mini-vacation.
One thing I'm really enjoying about our proximity to Balboa Park is that we can drop by for short, frequent visits without feeling like we have to do and see everything all at once. We've barely begun to explore all the park has to offer. After I picked up the girls, we were strolling back to our car and we passed the little Timkin Museum, a small, free-to-the-public art gallery next to the big SDMA. Erica had mentioned that it's an incredible collection. Jane and I noticed a huge sign advertising a special French Neoclassical exhibit, which is exactly the movement we've just been reading about in Young People's Story of Fine Art, so that was a pretty exciting discovery. We'll have to squeeze in a visit sometime soon.
Jane is also keen to see the Journey to the Copper Age exhibit at the Museum of Man—she wondered aloud whether her daddy could take a day off and take her. And I'd like to get to the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit at the Natural History Museum while it's still there...but tops on the girls' wish list is to go climb a certain enormous, low-branching tree they spotted on the way into the park. And when I was watching how happy my wee ones were yesterday in the kiddie playroom, I made a little mental note to remember that as important and wonderful as all this cultural stuff is, it's even more important to allow ample time for Climbing Very Big Trees and Dipping Fingers into Fountains. Sometimes the dead chicken really is the best part of the art museum. Even when it's a duck.