H, my mom, and I packed into the car and headed into Manhattan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art today. It’s the first Meredith Monday of summer 2012, and I plan on taking complete advantage of Mere’s access this year, mwah ha ha. There are rumors that the Met will start opening 7 days a week later this year, and if that’s the case this will be the last summer that we can take over the museum together when it’s closed. So H and I will definitely be going again (and I think my mom is on board for another round, too).

This is second only to watching the Thanksgiving parade balloons blown up as my favorite New York City thing to do. I even took my fancy camera and borrowed Adam’s favorite lens. I’ve been to the Met when it’s closed a few times now, once or twice in grad school when I took a class there and then a couple of times with Meredith. And she is by far my favorite buddy for this kind of stuff. An empty museum, time with a great friend, and lots of art. It’s like being in From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler but without the hiding and pesky brother.

We took it easy today since it was H’s first visit, and I think we got it down to a science. At the museum by 12 & out of the museum by 2, we avoided traffic on each end and basically avoided an overtired baby. And we didn’t keep Meredith away from her office TOO much. We went through the Costume Institute’s Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations. Baz Luhrmann directed several vignettes starring Miuccia Prada (as herself) and Judy Davis as Elsa Schiaparelli, just talking to each other about fashion. I loved the juxtaposition of their philosophies and Schiaparelli’s clear influence on Prada’s clothes. Very cool, and of course my mom commented several times, “I bet I could make a knockoff of that!” No photos allowed there, but H loved the clothes. Or she loved getting out of the stroller while Meredith carried her, not sure which. Either way, this exhibit was incredible.

We saw the new Islamic Art galleries, which just reopened last year. Almost all of my photos here were blurry, which was unfortunate because the pieces here were incredible. I did get this shot of some carved arches custom made to go with some ancient columns. I love the design of these galleries.

I also love the European Sculpture Court.

My mom had a blast. She and Meredith could’ve talked architecture and museum history all day.

The Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas never disappoints. This piece was incredible.

When it was time to head to the Impressionists (Baby’s First Impressionists!) H had decided it was just too exciting to be in her stroller. Meredith got some shots of her here, which I love.

H had lots to say about the Impressionists. The colors, the use of distinctive brushtrokes to build depth and meaning.

Our final stop of the day was my traditional favorite in the museum, gallery 629 with Peter Paul Rubens’ paintings. My mom told me as a teenager that I “was very taken” with these paintings when I was little, and I had no idea what she was talking about. Then we visited this room, and I instantly remembered these pieces when I saw them. Since then I’ve always tried to make a stop in this gallery to see them. It’s become my favorite room, for the paintings and the general atmosphere as a vivid childhood memory.  So, this was my sentimental favorite stop of the day.

H was just starting to fuss at the 2 hour mark here, which was all the time we’d planned on spending today anyway. Perfect, and I got a real thrill seeing her surrounded by art and folks that I adore. And conveniently, this was the point when simultaneously H wanted to call it a day and my fancy camera battery died. So this was my last fancy shot.

Fitting. When she’s older and we explain this photo we’ll tell her she just didn’t want to leave all that art. I also had my point and shoot in case my attempts with a real camera crashed and burned, so Meredith helped us squeak out these last photos in the Rubens room with a settled H. She doesn’t stay cranky for too long.

Then we hit the road so someone could have a magnificent car nap. And hint: it wasn’t me.

Great day, and I’m so grateful to Meredith for inviting us and taking us around. I sincerely hope she doesn’t get sick of seeing me and the stroller coming, because we will be back!