|A Christmas tree|
On a recent visit to Houston, the kids and I had a chance to visit two very different museums – the Museum of Natural Science (for a National Geographic Pirate exhibit) and the Menil Collection (which used to be on Frommer’s 500 Places to Take Your Kids).
Talk about apples and oranges. These two museums, located within a few miles of each other, couldn’t have been more different.
I’ll start with the Museum of Natural Science, which we decided to visit because the boys had seen an advertisement for the Real Pirates exhibit in the airline magazine as we flew down. Before we entered the exhibit, we wandered around the Energy Hall.
Sponsored by several oil companies, the hall focuses primarily on what made Texas (and Texans) so wealthy – oil. With hands-on exhibits, a “simulator” down a well shaft, and loads of computer models, the boys and I learned about Christmas trees (no, not the ones that are wood and pine needles), how a well is drilled, and the science of geology.
Do you know what “fracking” is?
I didn’t until I spent some time in the Geovator and learned about this technique to get oil to the surface.
And then we went to the fabulous Real Pirates exhibit (at Houston until Feb. 6, 2011) to see the treasures from a real pirate ship, the Whydah.
As weak as the King Tut exhibit was (see my post on November 26), this exhibit was unbelievably amazing. With kid-friendly dioramas that showed what a pirate’s life was really like, an overflowing chest of glittering pieces of eight, and a story that goes from Cape Cod to Africa to the Caribbean and back to Massachusetts, the exhibit was a huge hit with my guys.
Which brings me to the second half of our museum day – the Menil Collection.
To be fair, my mom kept telling me “Don’t do it, Anne. It’s not really a place for kids.”
But hey, it made the original 500 Places to Take Your Kids Before They Grow Up - so how bad could it be?
Ummm, let’s just say that it cost me a trip to an Academy store to buy sports gear as payback for the “torture,” as my boys called it.
To be fair, we only saw half of the collection, heading to the right when we entered to start off in the Surrealist rooms filled with Magrittes and Dalis.
Here are my guys’ comments: ”So what exactly is art, Mom?”(this from a kid who went to the Met at age 3).
“Wait a minute. You mean all I have to do is flatten out a box, slap it on a wall, and it’s art?” (said in front of a modern piece)
“Hmm, that’s interesting . . .” (said in front of “The Rape” by Rene Magritte – an oil painting of a woman’s nude torso where her breasts are the eyes, the navel is the nose, and her mouth is. . . well, you know).