All six of us--me, Daddy Honey, Woody, Fox, Nana, and Aila--went to the brand-new and much acclaimed Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. My very favorite painting is there, Maxfield Parrish's The Lantern Bearers, but we didn't see it. We left after only an hour.
I won't belabor the points, but to avoid being coy, here is why we did not stay:
1. Despite conforming to the smaller-than-11"-by-15" bag policy, I was asked to check my diaper bag because "it seemed a little wide and might catch on the art." They offered me a 5" by 7" Crystal Brides shopping bag to carry anything I felt I really must have on me. Looking around at other bags, including my mom's (visible below), I wondered about the enforcement of this one.
2. Within moments of approaching a painting of interest, a guard was at our shoulders, seemingly waiting for the moment he or she could pounce on the children with a smile and a reminder of what the required 18" buffer looked like. This happened to us three times in thirty minutes. I didn't have a ruler on me, but I can tell you that nobody in our group was nearsighted and no small fingers came close to touching anything.
3. No outside food is allowed in the cafe, though, according the website, picnicking is encouraged. Of course, since the only picnic areas are outside, today we were encouraged to eat our picnic in 34-degree weather.
But Woody loved it. Really, truly loved it. He was excited about pieces, asked tons of questions, pointed out cool things to us, and was in a terrific mood. I wish I could have matched that, could have let the other stuff go in the interest of fostering his positive experience. But I got stuck in my anger and resentment, my frustration and indignation. I couldn't shake it, and it set Daddy Honey off balance, and then it was just time to go. All the kids fell asleep on the way home, but once we got back, they wanted to talk about the art. Both boys really liked Mary McCleary's The Falcon Cannot Hear the Falconer. And to tell the truth, this painting felt about spot-on for me today.