Thursday, May 1, 2008

Mirror, Mirror


This is my absolute favorite picture from last Sunday. It's my favorite in quite a while... I took it at the end of a great day with the girls spent outside of the Kremlin. I'll now backtrack and start from the beginning...


We left the house early to take in the travelling "In the Mirror" exhibit at the Manezh exhibition hall--the beautiful huge pale yellow building on Manezh Square, adjacent to the Kremlin. The exhibit was created by a children's science museum in Switzerland and it was great!


Well... compared to OMSI in Portland, Oregon, it was only mildly engaging--but we don't have ANY children's museums in Moscow. Not a single one. Sure, there are museums--but none are designed FOR children. Children can go, but they won't find any interactive exhibits. Certainly there's no learning through play in any of the permanent museums. For this reason, when a good exhibit comes to town, people flock to it--especially the foreigners who are used to such museums in their home countries. I could hear other expat parents commenting, "Yay! Here's at least something neat to do... Wish it had been during the winter months..." The Russians, however, were much more surprised and impressed. Those who hadn't traveled with their children overseas couldn't quite grasp that you were supposed to touch the exhibits, that it was made FOR their kids. I'd sure love to be the developer who builds the first Western-style children's museum here; it'll make a fortune!


The theme of the exhibit was mirrors and most of the stations had to do with reflections and shadows. There were a few magnetic experiments, too. The best part of all had to be house of mirrors... Natalia didn't want to climb out of it! How many Natalias can you count? Natalia quickly gave up trying!


The kaleidoscope station was quite challenging; both girls kept at it until they had made something that pleased them.


Here was another variation on that theme...


Natalia couldn't believe that she was touching lightening...


They played with shadows...


...and then with magnets.


This is what the hall looks like inside; three open floors. The main floor hosts different exhibitions and functions throughout the year, ranging from the national honey festival (bee keepers from all over Russia come to sell their arstisan honey--YUM, YUM, YUM) to the annual Viennese Waltz (sponsored by Austrian Embassy and major Austrian industries). The second and third floors are more like little shelves, opening out to view the main floor below--they're perhaps 1/5th the size of the 1st floor. The science exhibit was on the 2nd floor and a cafeteria is on the 3rd.


This month there's an exhibit going on called "Families in Moscow: Today and the Past." Katya begged me to let them look at it. All of the sudden she's become a die-hard musem fan. I guess we're in the right city for that!


I wonder if the city had planned the topic of the family in advance, knowing they'd be attracting so many of them by the children's exhibit. It wasn't too hard to see that the goal was to make Moscow families proud--and to inspire them to have more children. All that being said, it was still rather interesting.


Katya took notes because they're studing life in 16th century Russia at school right now. She was equally excited by the installation from Pushkin's time, all about his family. She screamed "Alexander Sergey-ich PushKIN!" and ran to the room from across the hall!


I was excited to see these scrapbooks; the concept/craft doesn't really exist here and I'd never seen anything like this in Russia before. That lady would go nuts if she knew what exists in America...!!!!! These pages are celebrating her parents' wedding anniversary.


This exhibit recreated outdoor life for the rich from the late 19th century; you could actually play croquet on the grass!

I then took the girls to Red Square, where I took the first picture in this post. The girls actually cooperated! As they stood there posing, MANY tourists stopped to gawk. They were so cute with each other, and their doll strollers sure attracted attention, too. It was just dandy when Natalia then called out sweetly, "Mommy? Can we now get a treat? I mean, we've been so good for you... The last time you wanted to take our picture on Red Square, you had to threaten to spank us..." That sure elicited some snickers from the anglo-speaking tourists!




We ended our day with Baskin and Robbins ice cream at GUM, the gorgeous department store full of luxury goods that lines Red Square. (I've got pictures stored up for a big post about it sometime). This is what most women who shop here look like. You can see what they buy:


Then there's... ME! This is what I bought.

That's right! I splurged on a... SWEATBAND for my head from Nike! And I'm tickled pink about it! (I've really been needing one during my runs and I've learned that when you see something you need in this city, it often makes sense to just get it--it's not worth looking elsewhere in the hopes of paying less once you factor in time lost in traffic, etc).

It's worth pointing out that during this little trip of ours to the very center of Moscow, a spot where there are thousands of visitors daily from all over the world, we repeatedly ran into people we knew. I almost called Katya's 1st grade teacher while we were at the science exhibit, knowing her two little boys would love it--but I refrained, knowing it was Russian Orthodox Easter. Five minutes later she tapped us on the shoulder and introduced us to her family! Katya was thrilled to see her! We then ran into a friend I made when organizing a baby shower this winter for my friend Julie, and we later saw a mom from Katya's Brownie troup as we headed home.

The girls said, "Cool, Mom." I agreed :-)

(Yet again, formatting isn't working in Blogger--anyone else know how to make your post have uniform 1.5 line spacing?)

11 comments:

Tina in CT said...

What a fantastic day - exhibit for the kids, beautiful building (I don't remember seeing it from the outside), well behaved girls, great photo in from of St. B's, treat in Gum's and running into friends. That is wonderful how turned on Katya is to museums.

Lawn crochet was "the" thing in at the turn of the century here in the US for the wealthy.

ourboysourlives said...

page is reading fine for me...no worries....I just love reading your blog so much...have I said that??

The GUM....we did shop there...and what an adventure...I actually got Griffins baptismal outfit there it was a fine Italian brand but one sale, which does not happen much in the GUM...we also wanted to bring back an Olympics warm up jacket back for the boys to share...we were still new with the rubles conversion on trip one and just put it on our credit card...when we got home we were a tad surprised to see we had spent nearly 300 dollars for a warm up jacket..OH WELL it is a great jacket and will on Griffin in the fall or early spring...Spencer, much to his chagrin has out grown it. I often tease that I will then shadow box it and hang it is Griffins room!!

Keep the posts coming I am a loyal and lovin it reader...

Anonymous said...

lawn croquet blast of a game...you can spend like 500 bucks on a super nice set...I still with the target cheap set...
Debi

Seraphina said...

Where on earth do you learn about these things to do with your girls? Maybe through their school? I feel a bit like I need an inside source. I'm finding some things in your blog that are new to us...yeah!

Tina in CT said...

Want me to get you some sweatbands at Wally World and send them one at a time?

Nataliya said...

You are right - it's really hard to grasp the concept of interaction in the museums. I was very surprised when I took my son to our local children's museum a couple of years after we came to America. The way I was brought up was that you go to the Museum to look at the exhibits, but God forbid to touch them! Great scrapbooks pages - who made them?

Loved the girls picture outside of Kremlin - so precious.

Your drawings are hilarious! I can just picture these new Russians spending $6000 for Dolce & Gabbana.

Tina in CT said...

Your meeting up with people that you know while at the museum and then in Red Square doesn't surprise me as that's how it's always been for you. Remember on the riverboat tour on the Seine in Paris that a man came up to you and commented that you went to MPS as he saw your school ring? OK, you didn't know him but he was an American and knew where you went to school from your ring. It's a small world.

Love the picture of the girls in Red Square. Which AG doll did Katya have in her new doll carriage?

Great museum and pictures.

Tina in CT said...

We need to take the girls to OSV this summer. They will love it! We also need to think ahead to Plymouth too. Since they are into the history because of the AG dolls, they will get a lot out of the living museums.

kate said...

It all sounds great. What really struck a chord was "Buy it when you see it." I know we're in the time of plenty here, but it's still soooooo true! When I'm buying multiple items for the orphanages, I always attract a crowd eager to stock up on whatever it is that I'm buying so many of...gloves, bath toys...

HRH said...

What an amazing day...whew! The pictures are great. I love your stick figures that aren't stick figures, but just really skinny! And...really, just a sweat band? That is a bit pitiful! Just one handbag?????? hahahaha!

Annie said...

I have to tell you that your description of the exhibit on Russian families LITERALLY made me SICK (my stomach lurched) because I long to see it so much and can't. Darn it! If only I were rich! I wouldn't shop for clothes, I'd go to Russia whenever I wanted!!!!