Met Visitor Insists On Seeing the Mummies
They leave her anxiously curious; other checklist items include: snack, queens and princesses, and girls with pearls
On a rainy day, there is little better to do in New York than go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and wander around aimlessly. This, of course, is easier done when you are alone (highly recommended) or in a party made up entirely of adults. It is a considerably greater toss-up when you have a child in tow.
We have attempted the rainy-day Met visit in the past—twice, at least, and before the advent of masking and lockdowns. It did not go well. There is little to recommend in the Met for a child who can barely express herself in full sentences and who can find as much joy in a cardboard box as she can in carved marble. There was crying.
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Yesterday, however (after a brief entry shock), Kina was able to make some headway in her enjoyment of art. I gave her a checklist of the sorts of things we thought she might like to see, condensing it down to things that princesses and queens might like, girls with pearls, and mummies. She appreciated the to-do-list approach and consented to a walk through the galleries with her little camera (for taking pictures, of course).
We went up on the rooftop, where she enjoyed some popcorn and a view of the city (and was scolded for standing on a bench, which is a rite of passage for all visitors to the Met rooftop.) We saw what I have always called “the ancient rooms”, full of canopy beds and leaden mirrors (which she loved). Kina took pictures of the Tiffany windows in the American Wing and looked for a while at the Vermeers in European Paintings (She knows a little something about toxic effects of lead white from her Ted Ed videos in the morning, and wanted to see it in action.)
Finally, we visited the Temple of Dendur and its various sarcophagi and pools, wandering eventually to the gallery of mummies, which Kina had been waiting to see for ninety minutes. She marveled in mild genuine fear at the objects, wrapped in linen and marked “human remains”, and asked if they were real—having only seen mummies on various forms of entertainment. Yes, I replied, they are real, but they are not alive. She accepted that explanation just enough to proceed to further mummies, but asked again: is it real? Yes, it’s real. Are there bones inside? Yes, inside, but not alive, and it will not ever be alive.
She stood for a while in contemplation, having thought all this time that mummies were imaginary, making a reasoned decision to accept their reality and obvious deadness, then turned on her heel and asked if we could have lunch.
And so we did, as noted otherwise in this edition.
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