Yesterday was free-admission day at the main art museum here in town so Grace and I took the train downtown and spent the afternoon enjoying some museum time. I had been having a particularly down day in what is proving to be a bit of a down time in general for me, so I'm glad I decided to gather the wherewithal to make the trek. A few hours at a museum will almost always cheer me up, much like I can count on the cheering affects of re-reading Northanger Abbey or sharing a bottle of bubbly wine with someone. It's something about the quiet, contemplative ambiance, the sense that these things on the walls and on their pedestals are IMPORTANT, and that your whole job while there is to look and think about things. I like to think about things in a quiet, beautiful place.
We took the train downtown, which I think was Grace's favorite part of the whole expedition. I can't say that I blame her; I too have a deep and abiding love for train and subway public transit. I have a hard time explaining why I love them. Part of it is that I don't particularly like driving and I definitely dislike the hassle of parking, and of course the efficiency of moving large quantities of people where they need to go in a methodical, environmentally responsible way appeals to both the eco-conscious and hyper-organized parts of me. But more honestly, I think that my fondness for trains stems from an association that I hold between a train or trolley car or subway and a magical urban life sometime in the first half of the 20th century in which I would get to wear a fetching hat. From this you can probably infer what kind of books and movies informed my suburban girlhood what urban life was like.
I admit that part of the expedition's cheering affect is most likely me fantasizing that I live a different kind of life in a different kind of place than I actually do-- you know, a more urbane life in a different kind of city than Dallas. On the other hand, maybe it isn't a fantasy because I do live somewhere with a train that can take me to an art museum; perhaps I am rightfully cheered up.
If negotiating a museum with a toddler is in your future, I highly recommend taking advantage of free admission days, not only because you will save a little money but because it changes how you can approach your time there. Toddler squawks for the ancient Greeks and Romans after glimpsing the statues from down the hall when you were in the mood for something along 18th century European lines? No problem! You have not invested any of your hard-earned dollars! Toddler seems to prefer the elevator to the actual art? Fine! You can come back next month to see a little more! The free admission day is once a month here and we've been several times now since moving. There is a children's center with a few low-key activities and we usually spend about an equal amount of time in the actual galleries and in the children's area, which is totally fine. Grace doesn't have the longest attention span and seems to handle about 5 seconds at each piece before petitioning that we move on. Yesterday, we spent most of our time in the European galleries, also spending a little time with the ancient Romans (whose busts and sculptures always make me ponder what it means to be human in the vast swaths of history) and the Asian art (which is always one of my favorites as far as aesthetics and style).