I have a love/hate relationship with museums. They have become similar to water parks for me. Both grant a can’t-get-this-at-home thrill, yet both have grown in such high demand that it becomes difficult to truly immerse yourself in the experience when you are elbow to elbow with people who need serious lessons in manners.
The solution, for museums at least, is usually to go on obscure weekdays or sunshine filled days where most people will be found outside.
Or in my case, pick the cheap route and only go when you have a coupon.*
*This really isn't true. If I want to go somewhere, I’ll go. However, a coupon gives me a push incentive. It makes me want to make it happen immediately.
Thus was the case with our recent visit to MoMA in NYC. While we were in the city for Valentine’sweekend we put a museum visit on the if-we-need-something-to-do list.
Let’s be honest, in NYC you hardly ever find yourself searching for something to do. It usually shoves itself in your face and says, “Hey! I’m here! Choose me!” Whichever option screams the loudest wins.
At least, that is how it is for me. Maybe the city speaks to you differently.
In the end, we did not find our way over to the museum that weekend.
This worked in our favor because a few weeks ago I was given two free NYC museum passes. Each pass was good for a family of five. It was perfect! Hubby and I would go together and then we would come back in the summer with a larger group. We planned to spend the morning and afternoon of Easter’s Eve in MoMA and then stroll over to Butter for dinner.*
*More about that over at the Orange Strainer. But yes, the restaurant was called Butter. And yes, it rocked my socks off.
While driving into the city, I pulled out my free museum pass, looked it over and froze.
“Maximum of 5 people with a minimum of 1 child age 17 or under” was written in tiny print under the massive bold print announcing the complimentary admission to the museum.
I’m going to spare you the conversation that passed between Hubby and me at that moment because it isn't something I take pride in. I was a balloon who had been pricked and by the second was dropping from a mood of elation to one of ‘Whoa is me!”
My poor husband.
I planned out exactly what I was going to say to the admissions person at the museum. I was going to explain my situation, explain that I work at a school and therefore I should still receive free admission regardless of not having a child with me. Then, if all else failed I would cry.*
*No, I really wouldn't do that. That would have been pathetic.
I told the woman behind the counter my saga and handed her my coupon. Her eyebrows were already raised, and her eyes narrowed into a confused I’m-not-sure-what-to-do kind of manner. Not only did I feel like she wasn't going to let us in for free, but I felt like my coupon must have been written in Greek. She finally looked up at me and said, “This is for The Met. You’re at the Museum of Modern Art.”
Can you say, embarrassing?
I played it cool though.
“Oh, my, gosh! I cannot believe I did that!”
My volume level was pretty much near a concert spectator scream as I rolled my eyes to the ceiling.
“Don’t worry about it; people get us mixed up all the time. You aren't the only one to do it,” she said smiling at me.
That made me feel a little better, but now I was stuck. Should we go over to The Met and tell our sob story again hoping to get free admission there or should we just stay at MoMA? Though I might have gotten the two mixed up, I knew that MoMa had been the museum we had wanted to go to on Valentine’s Day.
We stood for several minutes trying to make up our minds, wasting this woman’s time as the line to get in continued to build. Even so, she didn’t show us any sign of impatience or that she was bothered by our (my) stupidity.
“How much time do you have?” she asked amidst our confused decision making.
“Four or five hours?” I asked instead of told her.
“That's a good amount of time for either,” she said.
“Which one is better though?” I asked, knowing most certainly what she would answer.
“Here,” she said immediately, but with a tone that convinced me she actually meant it.
My brain was malfunctioning as I was, believe it or not, still trying to get over the utter embarrassment of showing up at MoMA with a Met coupon, when another museum employee, Lindsay, came up from behind us. She had caught the tail end of our conversation and began telling us about both museums. Then she told the admissions employee to make us her guests for the day. Two seconds later we were holding a receipt and headed to the fourth and fifth floors at Lindsay’s suggestion.
I went from forlorn to embarrassed to elated in less than five minutes.
The Met is still on the list for another day trip to NYC, but I have a feeling MoMA will be seeing us again simply because of the kindness of Lindsay. She directed us to the best floors in the whole museum and for the first ten minutes I wasn't even concentrating on the art because I was so excited. I floated past Van Gogh’s Starry Night on the high of the treatment we had received.
Having taught art appreciation in the past, it was now surreal to find myself face to face with pieces I had projected onto a boring white classroom wall for my students to see. Discovering that these brilliant masterpieces were right in my backyard made me ashamed it took me so long to see them in person.
We’ll be heading to The Met sometime this summer, but I don’t think you’ll ever find a comparison of the two museums here. It would be too biased based upon this first experience at MoMA. I have the museum itself, the excellent staff, and the masterpieces within their walls to thank for that.