Tuesday 3 January 2012

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art

I want to be cultured. Really I do, but sometimes it just doesn't seem like it's wired in my DNA. I read some of my friend's blogs and they're looking at great art in Paris or Budapest. They're writing amazing pieces of poetry and brilliant literature while retracing Mark Twain's round the world adventures. They're sitting on hillsides in Berlin, listening to the Philharmonic, before trekking off to Sydney to see the Three Tenors in the Opera House. I'm incredibly envious of the things these people are enjoying, but I get the feeling that even if I was there, the experience would be wasted on me. I want to like the Shakespeares, Pavoratis, and Picassos of the world. It's just that my taste runs more towards Russell Brand, Nickelback, and silk screened T-shirts of Angry Birds.

That doesn't mean I don't try though. My kids may be a lost cause at this point when it comes to art, but I'm still learning. When Lori and I found ourselves needing to escape from the Plaza for a while (another example of how we're not quite as cultured as we'd like) we decided to walk up to the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art and check out the kind of art that doesn't hang on your fridge. After all, if you seek culture, you have to go where the cultured people are.

So what did we learn about cultured people? For starters, they walk to the Met. It's a pleasant walk through Central Park to get to the museum from all directions except east, and there's a steady stream of beautiful people coming out of the park and heading inside to "immerse themselves in some art". On the other side are the double decker buses which unload throngs of brochure wielding tourists who have come to "see some paintings!" Lori and I got it right and walked to the Met, although it was more because we grossly underestimated the distance from our hotel than from any sense of decorum that we may possess.

Upon arriving at the museum, we discovered something else that cultured people like to do. They like to be uncomfortable. At least I assume that's what was happening, as there were masses of people sitting on the stairs in front of the museum. This can't be the most comfortable place to sit, and there's an 843 acre park right behind the building filled with benches, tables, and a ridiculous amount of grass, yet the stairs seemed to be the place to be, so for a brief moment we joined in. Unfortunately we had no idea what to do once we sat down, so after a few minutes of people watching and trying to figure out the proper etiquette for stair sitting, we decided that we had earned ourselves enough culture points to head inside.

Now here we found cultured people. In fact we found a huge line of them. I knew that the Met was a popular attraction, but for some reason I never expected lines that resembled airport security. It took us around 20 minutes to make our way to the front of the line, where we got the opportunity to contribute $25 each to get in. For some reason, this made me feel pretty classy. I wasn't buying an admittance ticket, I was donating to a worthy cause like rich people do (although they kind of ruin that image when they hand you a receipt that looks a whole lot like an admittance ticket in return for your donation). We elected not to "donate" for the audio tour as nobody else seemed to have a need for it, making this the first time in our visit that we were feeling something in common with all the art aficionados surrounding us.That and the fact that we were all $25 lighter.

So now it's finally time to enter the museum, but I've kept you here long enough. If you're only interested in the end result, the museum is fantastic and filled with the kind of paintings and exhibits that even those of us in the non-informed art crowd have heard of. I never thought I'd find value in a $25 museum ticket, but I easily got more than my moneys worth here. If you want to come back tomorrow though, I'll tell you about the inside of the museum, terrifying the security guards, resisting the urge to vandalize a Renoir, and re-enacting scenes from Scooby Doo in the Egyptian wing. Hmmm...it seems this whole culture thing might not have rubbed off quite the way I'd hoped.