Museum Monday – A Young Patron Gets Critical

This was too good not to share.

I work at a large NYC art institution (you can figure out which one). We welcome guests from the neighborhood, across the country, and around the world.

I was walking through the gallery on Friday when a four-year-old girl decidedly exclaimed:

“There is nothing in this museum! Nothing! Boring! Boring! Boring!”


Perhaps she needed to participate in an age-appropriate gallery activity. Maybe she needed a nap. Maybe it wasn’t Disney World. Or maybe, we can hope, museums will grow on her over the next few years.

My friend Ms. H queried on her Facebook page “What was your first art crush?” after reading a New York Times article on a series by critics describing their first cultural crush. (I answered Frank Lloyd Wright when I was 15 – drama, drama, drama). While I frequently went to history museums, science centers, and historic sites in my childhood, I didn’t enter an art museum until I was 16. It was a high school field trip to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC and to the National Cathedral. I distinctly remember what I bought in the NGA gift shop that day: two prints, one of Degas’s ballet dancer pastels, the other a woodblock print of Edward Munch’s The Scream – pretty early 1990s mainstream fare and so quaint back then when we had to buy prints and postcards to obtain images! I had a landlord in New Jersey (a 30 minute trip on bus from mid-town Manhattan) who had never visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Some people will never approach cultural venues. So kudos to mom for bringing the small art critic into the museum, and here’s to hoping she comes back soon – and finds something not boring! boring! boring!

About Becky Fifield

Becky Fifield is a cultural heritage professional with 25 years experience in institutions large and small. She is currently Head of Collection Management for the Special Collections of the New York Public Library. An advocate for preventive conservation, Ms. Fifield is a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation, Chair of the AIC Collection Care Network, and former Chair of Alliance for Response NYC. She is also a scholar of 18th century female unfree labor and dress. There's a bit of pun in the title The Still Room, delineating a quiet space brimming with the ingredients of memory, where consideration, analysis, and wordcraft can take place. Ms. Fifield’s interests include museum practice, dress history, historic preservation, transit, social and women’s history, food, current events, geneaology, roadtrips, and considerations on general sense of place. Becky and her husband, Dr. V, live in the Hudson Valley.

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