(It is a very long post, but I want to record my memories of that day)
On Thursday. we had the best-ever field trip to the Art Institute. The best in almost four years that I volunteer at the Open Door Shelter!
When I came to cook dinner the first time after “the start of everything,” we discussed what we can do outside the shelter, and I said that we could do the Art Institute and see the new Monet Exhibit. I also suggested a couple of other things, but this one was embraced immediately.
Remembering all out previous Art Institute outings, I was pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm but held a pinch of skepticism. It happened before that when it is time to go, the youth forget, or just do not want to get out of the house, or whatever. I remember all delays in departure, losing people on the way there and back.
This time around, being late was not an option. I was not even sure how to secure our place in line for a Monet exhibit for the future date. A week after our conversation in the ODS, which was a week before our Art Institute outing, I went there during my lunch break, trying to see more of the exhibit and finding out what my options are for next Thursday.
That time, I was even earlier than the week before; however, I got fifty minutes to wait, which was not an option. Since I was already in the Art Institute, I decided to ask the staff at the exhibit entrance about my option for the next week.
The lady I spoke expressed enthusiasm regarding my mission: it is great that you are doing this; there are not that many options these days. It is such an opportunity for these kids to get some exposure to culture!
She said she would try to book us for the next week, and in five minutes, I receive a text message that our tickets are reserved. Before that she asked what time I had in mind, and I had to be specific. She resolved my hesitations: I will book your entrance for 6-30, but tell the kids that they need to be here by six! You know… And then she said: you will also need three more museum admission tickets (my membership allows only three guests, and we had six people, not including me). After my shift, she said. I will go down and ask them to reserve three tickets on your name for 6 PM.
I walked out of the Art Institute smiling, and emailed our volunteer coordinator immediately, asking him to make sure that they are not late.
The whole Thursday night was a miracle. I got a text message that they indeed left ODS on time and then I walked to the Art Institute. When I collected our three extra tickets. I saw that they were “one-day membership,” which meant that the whole museum is free for us for that night. We talked about the museum a little bit. It turned out that it was either the first or the second lime in this museum for all of them. I gave them a five-minute introduction and then told them briefly about Monet, and why I love his painting so much, and then we headed to the exhibit.
I worried a little bit that a large exhibit of landscapes wouldn’t ignite their interest, but they were captivated by Monet’s style on the spot. I walked around, making sure I spent some time with everybody, but in fact, they didn’t need my explanations. We exchanged our opinions and likes, and everybody was making sure the others won’t miss anything.
Closer to the end of the exhibit, there was a room where they showed a film about Monet’s series and gave a closer look at his techniques. Previously, people would stand in a crowd and watch the movies, but now, there were marks on the floor, and only seven people were allowed at the same time. One of my most precious moments of that night was the sight of the youth watching:)
At the very end of this film, there were a couple of scenes filmed at Monet’s garden, one of them showing him painting. In the end, he looks at the cameraman with the expression: OK? Enough?
And then the youth entered the next room and saw all these paintings they just saw on the screen! There was a priceless Awww!
They were running around that room, and the next one, and the next, all showing the series, and they repeated all they just learned from the film. I pointed out that chance are we just saw Monet painting one of those, since he was filmed by that waterlily pond, which initiated another round of excitement.
And then it was the end, and they could not hide their disappointment: is that all?!! I said: we have forty more minutes until the museum close. Do you want to see more of the Impressionists Everybody said yes, and we started to head in that direction, but then suddenly, two of the kids were missing. I joked that it always happened! We went back to look for them, and finally reached them by text, and they said they were “on the third floor,” which is not a precise enough location for the Art Institute:).
After an extensive search, we found them by expressionists, looking at Margritt and Myro, with no intension to leave. One of them said: I wish I could stay here for the night and spent twenty minutes at each painting!
It was very close to how my granddaughter Nadia didn’t want to leave the Art Institute.
We will do it again 🙂 And I want to mention that the youth were already making plans to come on their own. One of them was already texting a friend that they need to come together, and since they are students, they can come for free.
Don’t you agree, it was a magic night?!