Dear Austin Museum of Art,

In a moment of parenting idealism, I decided to take my two kids, by myself, to your Chuck Close exhibit.  After all, it was a rainy Sunday and you do have a kids’ area.  I thought they would be inspired.  At the very least I wanted to creatively kill some time.  Perhaps I should mention that my kids are 2 and 4.

Really, it’s the 4-year-old I was worried about.  She’s the wild one.  But recently, I’ve been able to reason with her.  And the 2-year-old never wanders far.  So I thought I was in the clear.

In fact, we had toured the museum, made art in the kids’ area and had gone back to compare a our work to that in the exhibit, all without incident.  I’ll admit I was so confident in my parenting skills that I let the kids run 3 circles in the empty back room.  You can probably watch it in your video surveillance.  Note how they immediately stop when I ask them to.  See how I cheerily tell them it’s time to go home.

Now here is where my 2-year-old shouts “Yay! HOME!” and bolts… right into a floor exhibit consisting of tiny bits of paper painstakingly arranged into a huge mandala pattern.


I’m not sure if I should admit this, but watching his feet fly out from under him and hearing the sickening thud of his head on the tile was less horrifying than watching all those bits of paper explode into the air in a little mushroom cloud of art.  And it made me shudder to have to step on the display to pick up my sobbing toddler from the middle of the exhibit and carry him to the front desk.

Please apologize to your college art student volunteers.  They seemed completely terrified by the appalled mother carrying a screaming child with a cast on his arm, pulling another one behind her.  They were very nice and said that they had to fix the display quite often.  But I don’t think they realized the scope of the destruction.

I would have apologized longer, but the entire museum had come to a screeching halt and a crowd was gathering, so I pretty much ran out the door.

In conclusion, I would like to offer a promise and a suggestion:  I will not bring my kids to your fine museum again… at least for a few years, and please put a rope around your displays.



7 responses to “Dear Austin Museum of Art,”

  1. Amber

    Holy s***!! That is so unbelievably funny – in a horrifying-thank-god-it-wasn’t-me sort of way. Have you all recovered? Are you laughing yet? I’m dying … and rethinking any plans to visit the art museum with Carmen.

  2. Rebecca

    Oh Cheris! My heart goes out to you. You’ve earned another true badge of parenthood. The best we can hope for is that our catastrophes will make good stories to entertain us all for years to come. This one definitely qualifies!

  3. Leah

    you crack me up. I can imagine your horror, sorry about that. I am so proud to hear you are doing art work and then comparing with stuff in the museum. good mama. you have wonderful children and you are a great mom! is there an all kids museum to take them to or a sciencecenter?

  4. Chris

    That is priceless! Kudos to you for braving a museum in the first place.

  5. Kami Wilt

    Oh my lord. I feel for you, I really really do. I swear something similar happened to me the last time I went, to an Andy Goldsworthy exhibit, which had some sort of art made out of loose sticks in the middle of the floor, and our two year olds thought that was great, and we had to scurry out right quick. Please, no more floor art!

  6. Mom

    Did you forward this post to the museum? You should. I think they would absolutely love it!

  7. Ruth

    LOL Cheris. You will tell this story for years to come.

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