Friday, May 9, 2014

First Quarter Rewind: Museums

I mentioned it a couple of weeks ago, but since we've been here several months, I wanted to make sure and document some of the amazing things we've done in the city. First up, I decided to share about the museums we've explored. We actually ended up getting a membership at three out of the four museums we've been to. Here they are!

Brooklyn Children's Museum
This is the one we've frequented by far the most and I expect that to continue. First of all, it's in Brooklyn. Secondly, it's geared entirely toward children. In fact, I like this particular children's museum so much because it seems to be (mostly) geared toward children who are our kids' ages- the toddler and preschool sets. I think it would still be fun for a slightly older child, but the activities are very appropriate for their ages and not above their heads. I've heard that the children's museum in Manhattan is geared toward older kids and that was the case, in some ways, the case with a lot of the activities at the museum at home. There wasn't near as much that Graves could do as there is at BCM.

Also, whereas two of the main focuses of the museum in Jackson are literacy and nutrition, there's a BIG focus on culture at the museum here. I think both are neat because it speaks to an awareness on the part of the museums' directors as far as the specific needs of the children in the respective states and I truly love that. But honestly, I'm more interested in different cultures than in healthy eating. Just being honest.

The museum here is literally the oldest children's museum in the country and during the race riots of the early 90s played a huge part in facilitating reconciliation throughout the neighborhood it's located in. This neighborhood was, at the time, the epicenter of a very violent struggle between Hasidic Jews and African Americans. I think that's really amazing and I love that serving it's community in that way is part of the museum's history.

This was our first trip...
Cork box- similar to a sand box, but not. It was the first time I'd ever seen one! 

Graves petted the giant hissing cockroach! 

Ready for the West Indian parade. This is part of a whole area called "World Brooklyn". The neighborhood that the museum is located in actually has a really substantial Caribbean population and there's a huge parade every year. 

The Afrikan area. There's this dress up station as well as an Afrikan market where you can buy pretend groceries.

On a different day, we spent our time almost exclusively in the "tot" area. I really like that there's a designated spot for tinier people (under age five-- we'll probably still sneak Annie in, being that she's "a little five" as she tells everyone who asks her age)....

We dressed up...

and made music...

and played with lions...

and created a magnetic airplane for Minnie, Cookie, and us...

and built a house for Minnie...

and played in the fabulous BLUE! sand.

Annie and Peyton did venture up to the second floor for a bit....
They did some brainstorming...

and demonstrated what conservators do!

We also took advantage of some of the special programming. One day we went for storytime. The most gentle woman read a book about monsters and we created our own. The chick who lead it was, I'm guessing, close to my age and she was SAINTLY. One little boy kept getting all in her face (his mom had a tiny baby with her and was not doing much to restrain him). Anyway, I have no idea if the kid had needs I don't know about or if he was just a little unruly. But it was rough. And she did SO well at gently redirecting him throughout the story. She never really stopped what she was doing entirely, but she'd glance up from the book and offer for him to move his chair right up beside her where he could see better, for instance. It was very encouraging to see someone handle a situation like that so graciously and without getting flustered. Color me impressed. 

We've been to The Met a couple of times and really enjoyed it. It's especially impressive how much Annie is able to appreciate and absorb. There is SO much to see and so many different galleries and a ticket is (understandably) pretty pricey, so even if we don't go a ton, I think we'll get our money's worth out of our membership. 

The day we went and stayed the longest we toured an instrument exhibit. Both kids actually really enjoyed it. Annie learned the different types of instruments and how to classify them (wind, percussion, ect.)

Maps out- time to tour!

I know this will probably be weird to most people. I myself honestly wouldn't have been drawn to it a few years ago. But this kettledrum was my favorite thing we saw at The Met. I absolutely loved it and I even took Annie back to it to show her. I picked her up and said to her "that's a momma feeding her baby and that's someone writing a book. Writing and taking care of my babies are both things that are very important to me". When I said "taking care of my babies" she just threw her arms around my neck and squeezed me so tight. I know that was an NYC moment I'll never forget.

I couldn't not share this, either. This dragon instrument was Graves's favorite thing. We literally revisited it about four times. 

We've only been here once, but again, bought a membership. We ended up being there on a super crowded day (it was during Spring Break), so I'm excited about going back when we can take more in.

The museum has a few different parts. So far, I think it's the "dinosaur part" and the "non-dinosaur part". No really, it's actually a lot more than that. They have quite a collection of exhibits featuring other animals, both extinct and not. 

Then there's also a more cultural aspect, which I LOVE. Annie also seemed to be really interested in these societies from yesteryear. 
Seminole women were given a string of beads at an early age and additional strings would be added from time to time until she was wearing several pounds and they coiled almost up to her ears. She would feel "immodestly dressed" without them.

ETA: We went again today (after I typed most of this post) and had so much fun!
Not the best picture because it was so dark, but I feel like I always share Annie's perception of things like this and I wanted to share Graves's. The animal in the lower left is called a fisher, but Graves kept calling him a "swimmer". He said "that swimmer not get the porcupine- he swat him with his tail prickles" after I read to him on a sign that that could happen. Then he said "Wait! The porcupine put on his cage (when pressed he clarified by saying "like a super hero"- so, cape) and fly down and get the swimmer." Then he said that the swimmer "protects" birds. Well, no, but props for sitting still and telling back to me a little of what I told you. And also for being excited about learning. 

This is the only one on the list we didn't get a membership to (ha!). It's really sort of an elaborate trip (you ride the LIRR (Long Island Rail Road), which is part of the MTA, but is an actual commuter train instead of like the subway trains). But also, the museum is comparatively small. It actually might be my favorite of the four, just because I found it so fascinating from a historical perspective, but it's not a place you'd revisit on the regular. Unless you were just really obsessed with trains. 

Here we are on the way home. The kids didn't need to be in their carseats, it just worked out to be super practical to use them to restrain Graves ;) We had them anyway because we were riding in our friend's car once we got to Long Island. But this gives you a feel of what the trains are like. They're really nice and it was a fun adventure just to ride on them!

The museum is set up in a neat way. There are two buildings and both have really nice, elaborate toy train set ups. Like really, really impressive. 

In one of the buildings the trains are on an elevated table sort of thing and there are tons of little buttons on the sides you can push to make things happen (windmills spin, horns blow, lights go on and off in tiny stations, and lumber can even be loaded into a freight car). 
Annie has by far been the main one to enjoy and appreciate a lot of things in the city (as one can expect), so it was wonderful for me to watch Graves experience something that really intrigued him and brought him a lot of joy. 

In addition to the two buildings, there's also an outside part where real (antique? vintage? I don't know what you call an old ass train) trains are displayed for your to tour inside. 

This is the inside of a Bay Window Caboose from the 1960s. There were signs all inside of it describing its features and the "crew" that worked inside it. 
I loved it and thought it was so fascinating to learn about. 

We also got to ride on this little guy, who made his debut at the world's fair some half century ago. 

Finally, we had a guided tour of some of the old coaches that were part of the Long Island Railroad system. 
This one is from the 1950s and was operational until fairly recently! 

So, those have been our adventures so far, museum wise. We've had such a great time exploring and taking advantage of just a few of the things this wonderful city offers! Next up, I'm going to share the parks and playgrounds we've visited.