a museum afternoon

Now that school is back in session, I’m rejoicing as the museums are quiet enough for us to visit. You see, summer is when we avoid museums like the plague because ugh, I hate crowds and they make Raspberry anxious and more tantrum-prone. We were briefly at the Manchester Museum a couple of weeks ago to have lunch in their picnic area and all the people there just did my head in. Anyway, this week has been and will be busy, so we needed a quiet day in there somewhere, and for us, a quiet day is a trip to the museum.

It’s been quite a while since we were last at the World Museum to properly see the exhibits, rather than just being there for a learning session or for a craft. I think it must have been at least a couple of months. The exhibits are rarely changed, so frequent visits (as we sometimes do) can make the museum quite stale at times.

Raspberry wanted to go see her favourite exhibits — the bug house and the aquarium — but we ended up doing something completely different. When we arrived, she wanted to go to the Weston Discovery Centre to play mancala, except that it wasn’t there anymore, as they’d installed new exhibits. So, she busied herself putting together her name (Ellesmere Port, not Raspberry) in Old Norse. She got most of the name, except there weren’t enough R’s, so she abandoned it. Together, we looked at foot-binding in China, reading about it and looking at the tiny shoes on display. The person working there opened up the case and we got to handle the shoes too. I held Ares’ foot up to one. His foot is almost the same size as the shoe, maybe a little bit bigger, so he’s obviously not beautiful or marriageable by ancient Chinese standards. I put Ares on the floor to crawl around (and lick the footrests on the stools) while I helped Raspberry with a shoe-matching activity. Most of my days are spent trying to divert him away from hazards, so it was nice that there was a relatively clear floorspace for him to move about while I could focus most of my attention on Raspberry. It’s been a long time since Raspberry and I have engaged in an activity together and I actually had fun, even though we didn’t get everything right. I think I need more of these focused times with Raspberry so we can reconnect and so everything she does doesn’t inexplicably drive me crazy.

We looked at the hominid skulls and Raspberry did her usual thing with the pelvis and femur, where she holds them up to her own body and tries to walk. The person manning the discovery centre, Adam, was the same guy who ran a human evolution event here at the museum last year. Raspberry asked him lots of questions and he was impressed by her anatomical knowledge. Since then, we’ve encountered him in many of the other events the museum has held and we’ve chatted to him on numerous occasions. He didn’t seem to recognize us this time though, and it took a bit, but he finally did, citing Raspberry’s glasses as the reason for not recognizing her. As Raspberry ran around throwing her cat, Violet, in the air, Adam told me how the humerus is the last to decompose and that there’s a 50,000 year window to extract mitochondrial DNA from a bones. I thought that was amazing and after I mentioned it to Raspberry, she wanted to know what the first bone would be to decompose (he didn’t know). He showed her the Haida puzzles, which she worked on, and seemed excited to show her the bone-related exhibits on display in the centre, most of which we’d seen previously. She was getting easily distracted by this time though, given her limited attention span, and she was starting to run around and fling her shoes in the air.

Another person who worked there asked when she would be going back to school and she almost gleefully replied, “Neverrrr!” but didn’t really want to say why. I explained that we’re homeschoolers and the person said that she must have to sit and get her work done before going out to play. Raspberry replied, “I play all the time!” and I had to clarify our child-led approach to learning. Adam told us about a new octopus, tentaively named Tako, at the aquarium and psyched (because we love cephalopods), we headed downstairs to find it. After asking around, we were directed to a common octopus in the small tank, sleepily stuck to the side of a rock. A tired Ares seemed intrigued by the fish in the coral reef tanks, although I wish they weren’t under ultraviolet light (a new feature since the last time we visited), so he could see the fish more clearly.

I always enjoy the museum so much more when we’ve had a long break from it, and Raspberry does too. We get so much more out of our visit. I think the same thing happened last year around this time too, post-summer, after weeks of actively avoiding the museum. And it’s always so nice when it’s quiet enough that the staff can answer questions and show us cool stuff one-on-one (and it’s also great when they recognize us too). I’m glad Raspberry was interested in the stuff about foot-binding, although perhaps not captivated enough to look up more about it. It’s been a while since I last saw her this interested in any particular topic, so I get excited when it happens. All in all, it turned out to be an unexpectedly pleasant afternoon, a good way to break up our busy week.

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2 responses

  1. DURIAN IN A TUBE

    April 19, 2015 at 6:26 am

    • I must know… what spurred this comment?

      April 19, 2015 at 8:34 pm

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