I’m not sure why this is true, given that its sumptuous cafe – there are glittering chandeliers, high ceilings, domes, columns, impressive interior tiles on the walls and the floors and the ceiling, as well as stained glass windows – was full of families with young children yesterday.
But having sculptures of interestingly textured stone at floor height is an invitation to disaster. Of course you are now so very into your toddler game that, as you saw the Star heading delightedly for a particularly inviting looking East Asian dragon, you reasoned that, as they had put these statues out on display within easy touching distance of all and two-year olds, they must expect, nay, perhaps encourage, a bit of tactile investigation.
And having run a mental check on how sticky he was likely to be, you let him get on with it. But as the Star gave the priceless piece of work a few energetic pats, out of the corner of your eye you saw two museum workers give identical jerks of involuntary horror, came to your senses and dragged your boy away. And thereafter spent an energetic, although by and large succesful, half hour chasing the Star through the galleries, heading him off whenever he looked like he was getting too close to something irreplaceable. You did have a slightly anxious moment when the Star started playing peekaboo around the bases of some busts. You were leisurely strolling towards him, having ascertained that none of the sculptures were in reaching height, when you distinctly saw George Wyndham* wobble.
Surprisingly flimsy, those plinths. George Wyndham, before his nose was mysteriously broken off. With nightmarish visions of a Rodin masterpiece in pieces at your feet, you sprinted the last few feet and attempted to grab your son. Who thought this was great fun and commenced playing hard to get. The bust wobbled again, and I swear time stopped for a second or two. However, the Star was retrieved without further incident in the end and escorted from the building, tucked firmly under one arm. You will be going again, but perhaps you will stick to the collections behind glass.
The problem with that is just as your heart swells with pride as the Star lets our a howl of obvious delight and sprints towards a display case is what he is actually interested in is the little placard describing what’s on show. And the one in the case next to that. And the one next to that. That Star, in fact, remained distinctly underwhelmed by the art and design masterworks, being far more interested in the fire extinguishers, the way his voice echoed when he shrieked, the marble steps in the Raphael gallery, the slipperiness of the floor and the pull out rope barrier dispensers on the walls. *Although it could have been Honore de Balzac. Adrenaline surges really interfere with your ability to read plaques.
This post was written by Solnuska, who spent a lot of the last ten years living and working in Russia. Moscow, to be specific. She is married to a Russian. No, he doesn’t own any football teams. Or drink vodka for breakfast. She has one small boy. You can read more at her blog Verbosity.