Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Using the Museum

Yesterday the kids and I went to the Field Museum, Chicago's gigantic natural history and conservation resource. We'd had a *long* long weekend, in part because Astrid had half-days at school on both Thursday and Friday, so I was frayed and a bit daunted by the prospect of schlepping out to the Field. But we did it--drove to the parking garage by the CTA, got on the train and waited in the cold wind for a bus--and we were all glad we did.

Elliot had been to the Field most recently and was eager to take us through the Aztec and Evolving Worlds exhibits. I love seeing just how much he retains about topics that excite him, and how clearly he explains difficult concepts to Astrid--who, in turn, is hungry to catch up with her brother in all things scientific.

About midway through our visit, Astrid decided that she was ready to do some drawing--which was Elliot's and my cue to step away from her (without taking our eyes off her). She made some lovely quick ink sketches of animals in the very old taxidermy exhibits. (It took her a while to really understand the status of the specimens she was studying--they looked very alive to her, though they weren't moving, and she was understandably disturbed when she put two and two together--these animals had been killed by or for scientists long before she was even born. When we discussed older ideas about how people might study the creatures around them, she seemed to forgive them...an interesting moment to share with her.)

I hope we can get back to the Field soon (I got a membership to increase the chances that we will). I learned from my mother, who earned her BFA at the Museum School in Boston, that museums are places for people to study and work--not places for people to stand in awe of discoveries made by other folks. I'm happy to pass this idea on to our next generation of scientists and artists.

1 comment:

kt said...

I really like what your mom said that makes so much sense. There is a Natural History museum in our town, your post makes me want to get up and go to it. (something I have been wanting to do since we arrived here) kt