“I didn’t know all this stuff before I worked for the museums. How could anyone? And sharing what I’ve learned with school children, my own grown children and my grandchildren is an extra gift.”
From this author’s lifelong editor, her mother.
Ask her anything. She knows about the suicide rate in Iceland, got close and personal with elephant seals and penguins in Antarctica, viewed Evita Peron’s tomb in Buenos Aires, visited with pigs and cows on the crowded streets of New Delhi and, when finally returning to her homeland, found time to learn how to teach children how to look at art. She’s at leader in the Sierra club, to get those discounted trips abroad, and a docent at the Natural History museum and the LA County Museum of Art (LACMA).
Without my mother’s influence I would never venture further than Hart park for my cultural activities. Now there’s nothing wrong with the Hart Museum or the wonderful volunteer docents but sometimes we NIMBY’S have to venture a littler further. And since you don’t have my mother to nag you I have hauled in her reins to do it for her. Or else you might miss something. Please read on oh parent’s of school-aged children lest you miss my point entirely.
My mother, Felicia Hammond, is fairly knowledgeable about marine biology, gems and minerals, mammals, birds, dinosaurs and native Americans. Every time the museums give her a new stint she makes a trip to her local library (another thing she’s turned me onto for books, videos and audiocassettes) and reads up on the subject. I’ve come to see her as my own particular “gem”. Especially when Samantha chose her trips to the museum as a favorite among all others, even Chuck E. Cheese, in a report at school.
“A kid’s favorite”, per my mother’s dialogue, is the Discovery Room at the Natural History Museum. There children can brush through sand to uncover “fossils”, identify different types of “cat” cries, finger starfish, polar bears, animal skins and reptiles, choose age appropriate “boxes” to try there hand at sorting sounds, trace leaves, and play computer games. Right above that room is the live bug display. I can’t give you the entire museum layout, as it takes a day to see it, suffice to say it’s fab. See it when Dinosaur Sue comes if you haven’t seen her yet. The biggest T-Rex assembled! And if there is any time left, the Children’s Museum is less than a block away.
When I started this column it was with the intention of telling you all about the new children’s display at LACMA. When my mom turned me on to it we scheduled a day during the week when it wouldn’t be too crowded. It’s in the same end of the art museum that held the Van Gogh exhibit last year. But this is geared for the much more adventurous mind: your child.
It’s called the LACMAlab. Two swings face a psychedelic art show on a screen. Children run up to a mock stage adorned with microphones only to search out the only one that can send their voice throughout the audience, inside and out. Green rolling hills, reminiscent of a “teletubbie” video, have small round cutouts to reach into (three-dimensional) or view (one-dimensional). The sound room ran out of earplugs and only the older children seemed to want to experiment with the ear assaulting “music”. The pillow room, equipped with ladders and ropes, are perfectly safe, quiet and calming to view. The hands on art room promised sculptures, easel painting, cutting and tracing, and delivered it with many a cheer. The museum staffers were kept busy continually hanging freshly painted montages of each child’s “art fullness”. My mom and I could hardly keep up.
My mom says the truck from LACMA won’t come this far; we would have to lobby for that as LA county residents, so we have to make the trip there. The current exhibit promises to be around for another eleven months or so. How much longer until your child is too involved with other activities? I’ve got my mom every day to remind me; you’ll only get this column once dear neighbors.