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Van Gogh

September 04, 2006

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Wow! We love Van Gogh, so this was a treat we did not want to miss and it was well worth the trip alone just for this. (We are becoming masters at the mass transit here as we wait for our camper and camera
to be ready to go). Spectacular art and wonderful things available for kids too,what parent could ask for more? The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam holds the worlds largest collection of his works, over 200 paintings and many famous masterpieces.

I saw a large Van Gogh exhibition in NYC many years ago and it made an indelible impression on me as I found it quite powerful seeing his works in person.This was even better and we are all still reverberating from the experience. I don’t know what exactly moves me about him and his work; the tragedy of his life living out of sync with his world hearing a different drum (something I can relate to), the pure intense beauty of the paintings (it is hard to imagine that they could not recognize their beauty during his lifetime), the rural life and light of the south of France that he captures so well, the fact that he was mostly self taught (again something I can relate to). I am sure all of the above and more.

Some how I have that old song from my youth with the refrain “starry, starry night” forever as a kind of unconscious sound bite background music playing in my head when I wonder about him, his pain and his gorgeous paintings. I am so grateful that I got to see some awesome ones that I have never seen before even in books. I think how lucky Mozart is to visit these beauties so early in her life.

Going to a museum with a five year old is a different experience than going with only adults and indeed
she was the only child there except for two babies in arms. It’s a shame because this is a great one to share with a child. Mozart has been going to museums since she was a baby and really enjoys them, but we almost always do preparation before hand to enrich the experience and also take advantage of whatever they have available for kids. We do not get to linger as much as we might like, but we manage to get some lingering in as we take turns watching her or working with her on the written work with the treasure hunt. We ended up spending most of the day there and Mozart picked out a small journal that she wants to use as her diary.

They had a really great free treasure hunt brochure with lots of good questions and fun things to do (like find paintings from tiny puzzle pieces or write down which direction the paint strokes were going etc). We have done these kind before, but this one was particularly fun. They also had an audio program just for kids for a small fee that we got and she enjoyed very much. She got all the questions right on the treasure hunt so got a free post card at the end of our tour and a badge that named her an expert on Van Gogh.

She has had books on art since she was a tiny baby (as the first ones were board books) as it is something we value. Her father and grandfather are artists and my grandfather was an artist. During the prep phase of the trip we did even more study in this area to prepare for all the wonderful art here and museums we knew we would visit and have a bunch of art books with us. So before we left that morning, we hauled out one of her favorite in a series called “Camille and the sunflowers, a story about Vincent Van Gogh” (a series we bought some time ago at our local museum store and luckily they come in small size so great for travel) and she reread it as part of her home school assignment. It’s not surprising that some of her favorites are ones out of that book just as many of the postcards she picked. She is also rereading “Melanie Martin goes Dutch” and I think that along with the movie “Harriet the Spy” has inspired her to be a writer and gave her the idea of the diary. She wrote “private” on the outside just like Harriet did, but I think she will let me share a little with you later.

She also bought some water color paints at the museum store, so she was journaling as we left the museum, on the bus home and was inspired to paint as soon as we got back to the camper at the shop. Of course we could not miss the opportunity to get a shot of her with her very favorite VanGogh painting...the sunflowers.

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