Culture – it's not just for yogurt

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Henry Moore, Reclining Figure, Detroit Institute of Arts

My effort to add a dash of culture to our weekly schedule begins with a family trip to the Detroit Institute of Arts. Armed with a map of the galleries, I lead the pack through the crowded building. It was family Sunday at the museum: culture, with extra toppings.

Sometimes in my zeal to share my passions with my family, I lose sight of common sense. This proved to be one of those days. Consider the following events:

Girl from the East thinks the modern art sculptures are play structures and attempts to climb them. Other objects, while not posing as climbing equipment, tempt sticky little hands to touch them when signs nearby advise against acting on such impulses. 

In the main courtyard, a folk singer strums his guitar before a foot-stompin’, hand-clappin’ crowd. Something about folk singers seems to send husband and older daughter fleeing in the direction of the Dutch masters.  I take folk singers on a case-by-case basis. In this case, the guy was young and attractive. Based on this, I take a seat.

I’m not seated for long. Between the singing and guitar playing, I detect a high-pitched note. Back-up singers? An exotic far-Eastern instrument? No. It’s Girl from the East, who has erupted in tears for an inexplicable reason. 

More cultural, artsy stuff is avoided as no one wants to enter the craft room, an area otherwise known as the open glue bottle and scissors territory,  and unsteady hands wielding paint brushes zone.

We  avoid the Native American art gallery because it is “too spooky.” Ditto for most of the African art. This is due to the tribal masks and totem poles. Mostly, it’s because there aren’t any pictures of Dora or Diego on the walls. See, there’s Diego and there’s Diego. 

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Detroit Industry, Diego Rivera

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Go, Diego, Go!

Girl from the West is caught texting her way through the Renaissance period.  

There are a few things that capture everyone’s attention: the food court (which features reproductions of European architecture and, well, food), those aha! moments when a famous masterpiece is discovered on a wall,  and the freight elevator. We ride it twice. It’s that good.

The first rounds of  “Can we go?” “What’s for dinner?” and “How much more is there?” signal the end of my attempt to infuse culture into the family. At least I tried.

Suddenly, I recall the many Sunday outings of my childhood in which we landed at bird sanctuaries, ambled through Amish country, strolled through various museums and historic sites.  I remember my dad brimming with enthusiasm, exalting the virtues of this or that feature. I remember sighs and eye rolling and wishes for a trip to Dairy Queen or a Disney movie. 

Sorry, dad.

2 thoughts on “Culture – it's not just for yogurt

  1. *sigh* I feel your pain. My best “solution” is to go on these types of jaunts often, but for short periods of time to see focused things (memberships help). We just go see the armor one trip. Another trip will be all about the animal exhibits. Or whatever. Also, my kids love to do art themselves, and they are still very little (3 & 5), so it’s not such a hard sell to get them to look at some art for a little while. They love it. (Then again, they have no phones on which to text, since they can’t yet spell.) I don’t know what the solution is. Though I do recall one inspired idea I read ages ago of having each person in the family take it in turn to choose a weekend outing, and then everyone having to try whatever it was and honestly strive to see why it could be fun. It might mean that you have to “enjoy” paintball one day. But it might also get them to try harder to like Degas. Just a thought…

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