February 2018 – A Playful Field Trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Dear Friends,

One of CMEE’s goals is to make museums more accessible. Unfortunately, the term “museum” is loaded with dull and dusty associations. How can we encourage all families in our community to see a visit to a museum – even a hallowed institution such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art – as an opportunity for fun, learning and play?

With generous support from the Century Arts Foundation, we recently used E. L. Konigsburg’s “From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler” to inspire a playful field trip to the Met for forty Spanish-speaking students, parents and mentors participating in a mentorship program at CMEE. During the trip, the kids walked in the footsteps of Claudia and Jamie Kincaid, the book’s protagonists who ran away, not from home, but to a place where they could find an adventure that lifted them above their mundane suburban life. Like Claudia and Jamie, we admired sculpture, drawing and paintings from many cultures and time periods, and each student researched a mysterious work of art.

Prior to visiting the Met, the students and mentors prepared by reading Konigsburg’s novel, working with artist Stephen Solow to learn about Michelangelo’s drawing technique, receiving a brief introduction to art history, and writing short stories about the “mysteries of the Children’s Museum.”

While our group may not have spent quite as much time at the Met as Claudia and Jamie did in the book, it was equally as transformative an experience. Here are just a few of the reflections the students shared about their visit:

“The Egyptian statues were my favorite because they had so much life…[they] made me feel happy, light, and bright!”

“[It] got me thinking that real people just like me went through so many hard times and important moments in their lives.”

“It was the most wonderful educational experience of our lifetime! We can’t thank you enough!”

CMEE’s mentorship programming is designed to help children and their families realize their dreams. By visiting a museum, we can introduce our children to new ways of seeing, thinking and imagining. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to keep dreaming!

Fondly,

Leah Oppenheimer,
Director of Community Outreach