It’s a Sunday afternoon in Central New Jersey. It would be nice to visit the Guggenheim, but it’s a bit far. We’ve been to the Metropolitan; that’s also a full day trip. I used to visit the MFA when I was a student. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is my favorite in Boston. I’ve been to the Louvre. Years ago I enjoyed wonderful art at the Tel Aviv Museum. But if you want an art trip that’s five minutes from Highland Park, you go to:
A few weeks ago my daughter, her friend and I went to Family Day at the Zimmerli.
The event was free; balloons floated in front of the stained glass window. There were guards stationed in every room of the museum. All the guards were nice to the children, explaining sweetly that the children should not touch the art (this was not our experience at the Princeton Art Museum, which seems much less interested in having children in their building, or the Newark Museum, in which a guard once told my son he could not sit and draw the paintings. Maybe if I write this on a blog post someone at one of those museums will read it and try to be more kid-friendly?).
Activities included face painting, a scavenger hunt, a dance performance, an art activity, and storytelling.
My daughter and her friend waited in the bus stop sculpture by George Segal to get their faces painted. George Segal, known for his life-size human figures, also did a sculpture called The Holocaust, which is in the Jewish Museum in New York and in a park in San Francisco.
We worked on the Family Day scavenger hunt, searching for details in paintings.
As our grand finale event, we listened to story told by Peninah Schram, who was introduced as a “world-reknowned storyteller.” Peninah enjoyed having her picture taken with the girls (a third friend joined us):
Peninah began her story with: “Shalom Aleichem.” We were then supposed to yell back: “Aleichem Shalom!” The audience was a mix of Orthodox Jews, Asian Americans, Caucasian Americans, and at least one Muslim family (one could tell by the head scarf and pants)–typical Central New Jersey audience.
The story was about three brothers and a magic pomegranate. Peninah encouraged audience participation; when she talked about a shuk, the children were asked, “And what do you think was being sold in the market?” When she asked how many seeds does a pomegranate have, I whispered to the girls: “613”, so they happily yelled out “613!”, and Peninah explained how a pomegranate is reported to have 613 seeds, like the number of mitzvot in the Torah. (Aside: years ago, my brother and I counted the seeds in a pomegranate, and we found way more than 613 seeds. When I told my teacher, he responded: “but was it a pomegranate grown in Israel?”)
We bought a copy of the book, The Magic Pomegranate. I see we got a good price; we only paid $15 for the book at the museum.
On the way out, the girls got prizes for their participation in the scavenger hunt. One prize was a kite, so we ended the afternoon with a bit of kite flying.