I Had Such Great Expectations…

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When my girls got the opportunity to take a trip to the Cleveland Museum of Art with school, I was happy they wanted to go. Whenever I suggested a trip to the Museum during spring or summer break, neither kid showed much interest – even though they both love art class.

Apparently, the art teacher did a better job selling the experience to them. However it happened, I was pleased they decided to go. I was even happier to learn they needed an adult to go with them. I pictured the Norman Rockwell-type day we’d spend together, and thought of how excited the girls would be to see stuff in person they had only read about. I knew they’d like the Egyptian art. I was also looking forward to showing them the Armor Court; having lived through a special class project where one child built a medieval castle from cardboard and other recycled materials.

Before our visit, I downloaded the special app, asking each child to choose pieces from museum’s vast collection to see. They declined, choosing to wing it when we got there. I was looking forward to spending a great day together with my girls, bonding over a mutual love of art.

I think my expectations may have been a bit too grand for our first art experience. Don’t get me wrong — we had a great afternoon together and they did enjoy the Egyptian art, especially the sarcophagus, since they had studied it in school. They also enjoyed the tile mosaics, and found the partially clothed, often broken Greek and Roman statues equal parts embarrassing and hilarious.

But, the pace of their tour was set against a ticking clock with the girls charging ahead to the next thing as quickly as possible like contestants on the ‘Amazing Race’ TV show. They liked what they saw, sometimes pausing an extra minute or to in order to snap a photo. But mostly, they just wanted to keep moving to see the next big thing. They spent the majority of their time experiencing the hands-on exhibits in the Museum’s Gallery One. But, the Museum attraction they seemed to appreciate the most – after a delicious lunch at the café – was the Museum’s escalator.

I’m glad we had the chance to spend an afternoon together, laughing, eating and hanging out together. It wasn’t the bonding experience I had imagined, but it was fun to see which works held their attention the longest, and to watch their reactions to some of the more contemporary artwork they saw. We’ll definitely return to see some of the pieces we missed on our first speed-walking tour through this world-renowned collection of art.


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