Welcome to the ALL NEW Arizona Museum of Natural History weekly Blog! Here we will keep you updated on museum happenings, new exhibits, and the latest and greatest goings on in Down Town Mesa. We will also share weekly ramblings, videos, personal stories of our own museum experiences, and hopefully some of yours too. If you or your children would like to share a museum story or anecdote please email us. We'd love to hear from you, and I'm sure our readers would too!
Since this is the first post, and a new blog... I'm going start off by sharing the story of my own very first visit to a museum. Even though this is a weekly blog the story is a little long, so I'm going to post half today, and half tomorrow...
I grew up in a small town in Massachusetts. When I was in elementary school, my fourth grade class went on a field trip to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA. I was an avid reader when I was young... I still am, actually... and right before we went on this field trip, I had just finished reading a book called "From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler" by E. L. Konigsburg. Now, if you haven't read this book...you should. It's really a great book, full of adventure and mystery. It's the kind of book that you can't put down once you start reading it, and wish it never ended when you finish...but I digress.
In the book, a twelve year old girl and her nine year old brother run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. They find a way to hide in the museum after hours, and end up living there undetected for a short time. While there, they discover what they think is a mystery involving one of the exhibits, and find themselves compelled to solve it. I fell IN LOVE with this book, and the whole idea of hiding away in a museum... so naturally, when I heard I was going to visit one, the nine year old wheels in my head started turning.
The first thing I did was recruit a partner in crime. She was my best friend, Beverly, and we did everything together... We joined Bluebirds together, we went to camp together, we got in trouble for throwing crab apples at the neighbor boys together...but mostly we had fun together. So when it came to choosing someone to commit a felony with, naturally, she was my only choice. I gave her the book, and told her to read it as fast as she could, so that I could tell her about my unbelievably fantastic idea. I knew that once she read that story she'd be hooked too, and it wouldn't take much convincing to get her to come with me. I was right, she was intrigued... and thus began the blueprint stages of our endeavor.
For the two weeks leading up to the field trip, we did nothing but talk about how great it was going to be to live in a museum, and how we needed to prepare. We dug in couches for change, begged our parents for nickels, and dimes... "For the gumball machine!" we lied. We hoarded Twinkies, peanut butter cracker packs, and even a few cans of soda. We argued about whether or not we should bring extra clothes, and worried that our bulging backpacks would give us away. Finally field trip day arrived, and we almost couldn't contain our excitement.
When we arrived at the museum, our teacher and a couple of the chaperones broke us up into small groups. Initially, they separated me and Beverly in order to avoid what they called "a situation". In their defense, whenever we were together, there seemed to be "a situation", so they weren't entirely off base in wanting to separate us...but after some intense pleading, and heartfelt promises from both of us to be on our best behavior, we were allowed to remain together. We should have known right there and then that our plan was no longer going to work. We had drawn attention to ourselves right from the get go, and were being watched closely. Unfortunately for us, kids don't think like that. All we could think about was waiting for the perfect opportunity to sneak away. That opportunity presented itself almost immediately (or so we thought) when we were urged to use the boys and girls rooms before proceeding on the long tour of the museum. Again, we should have just decided to call the whole plan off... I mean, we had just arrived at the museum. Going missing within the first ten minutes of arrival definitely does not go unnoticed, but like I said... kids don't think like that.
When it was our group's turn to use the girl’s room, Bev and I walked in together. Luckily, there were other schools visiting the museum that day, so the bathroom was crowded. We milled around, waiting for everyone to use the stalls, and when the last few girls were finishing up, we headed for the stall at the very end of the row, furthest away from the door. With our over stuffed backpacks, we crammed into the stall together, and stepped up on the toilet so no one could see our feet.. and then we waited...and waited... and waited. At one point, a woman opened the door to the girl’s room and called out "Is anyone in here?" Whomever she was, she came into the bathroom a little further and crouched down to look under the stall doors for feet. We just stood on the toilet frozen with fear, holding our breath until she was gone. We waited a little longer, and once it seemed as though the coast was clear, we stepped down off of the toilet, and peaked out of the stall. The bathroom was empty...it was time to make our escape.
To be continued....
Hope to see you at the AzMNH!