Monday, September 9, 2013

LA Daycation Adventures!

My sister was in town over Labor Day weekend, so we planned some extra fun adventures. On Saturday, we headed back to Exposition Park's to check out the other main attraction, the Natural History Museum.

We had just enough time to get acquainted with the two dinos in the main entrance hall, and with a friendly employee who took a liking to Ivy, before Alice had a hunger-induced meltdown. So we popped down to the newly renovated NHM Grill for an early lunch. My salad was surprisingly tasty, and I was impressed with the wide variety of offerings, including plenty of healthy, mom-approved fare.

While we were all eating, I was startled by a very large beetle hovering just behind my shoulder. It buzzed away and then returned a short time later to fly right into the middle of our conversation and land very definitively in my sister's salad. When she shooed it away, it flew/hopped clumsily over to Alice's place, who screamed - literally shrieked at the top of her lungs - "NO, I DON'T WANT IT!" and then dissolved into hysterical crying. It was simultaneously so, so hilarious and sad. I comforted her while shaking with laughter, with everyone in earshot cracking up as well. We wondered if she thought that her dear Auntie had actually meant to serve her a beetle for lunch on purpose.

After that exciting incident, we had a great time wandering through the delightfully classic diorama halls.
Oh give me a home, where the buffalo roam...
The dinosaur skeletons were really impressive and very cool. I'd never seen the old exhibits, but I thought the brand new Dinosaur Hall displays were really engaging and interesting.

 


this dinosaur had the stupidest arms. you can't tell from this photo, but they're basically on backwards.
 

Don't worry, Ivy. I'd never feed you to a T-Rex.
Alice was a little short on food and had a bit of a hard time paying attention and behaving, but she managed to pull it together before we headed outside to see the Butterfly Pavilion exhibit. Despite the wicked heat and humidity, we all really enjoyed seeing so many beautiful butterflies flitting around, and were excited to spy so many fat caterpillars among the leaves!



Looking for caterpillars
and finding them! 
 I wanted to (gently) squeeze their plump little caterpillar bodies, but I listened to the rules at the beginning and kept my hands to myself.

Ivy Bug enjoying a butterfly.
Two butterflies initiating some new life cycles...
The butterfly in the photo above was flitting all along the vines growing over the arbor above the walkway. She was looking for a spot to lay her eggs and it was lucky she didn't choose the spot where I took her photo because it was totally in reach of grabby baby hands. I tried to help Ivy keep her hands to herself, but she was having a hard time following the rules. 

More procreation.
After we'd had enough of the sun, we said goodbye to the butterflies and made our way through more of the halls and exhibits inside where it was air conditioned. In the North American Mammals hall, we wandered into a "live dinosaur show" which promised life-size dino puppets, so we settled in to watch. We prepped Alice for the little bit of thunder at the beginning of the show, and then hoped the dinosaurs wouldn't be too terrifying.

I'm always afraid that such live performances will be terribly written/acted/produced, and that I'll be cringing the entire time with embarrassment and palpable discomfort. I was totally pleasantly surprised that the show was very well-written, directed, and performed. Mary Anning herself came to tell us all about how she happened to become a paleontologist - except, in her day, women weren't allowed to be educated as or become paleontologists, so she was considered a "fossil collector." At the end, Ms. Anning made sure to tell the girls in the audience that they were all able to become paleontologists if they wanted. We didn't have enough energy to make it to the next show, featuring a T-Rex puppet but we did see the costume waiting backstage as part of another of their gallery exhibits. I just kept imagining this, though.


After we ran out of gas for the Natural History museum, we popped over to the Science Center so my sister could see the Space Shuttle Endeavour for a quick minute.

On Sunday, my sister got some quality alone time with the girls while Jon and I went on a date. We decided to finally hit up the Norton Simon museum. I hadn't been since college and Jon had never been, so it was nice for both of us to visit with fresh eyes.

We started at the very beginning, because that's a very good place to start. Except that I think we actually started toward the middle, at the late end of the 14th-16th century gallery. Renaissance and post-Renaissance art just calms my heart. I love the compositions and the colors, the solidity and dependability. I know that I will always admire the translucent glow of the doughy skin, and the rich, velvety folds of fabric. I particularly enjoyed The Holy Women at the Sepulchre - Peter Paul Rubens for all of those reasons.  There was another right next to it that I loved as well, but nothing in the online gallery jogged my memory. I also love the dramatic and romantic back stories and histories of each painting, like the huge Triumph of Virtue and Nobility Over Ignorance - Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. I love that "the bats symbolize ignorance, which refuses to see the light and wisdom of knowledge."

I wish I'd known how much I love art history when I still had a chance to study it in college.

I am less of a modern art fan. I usually find the histories and context just as interesting, but the art doesn't usually move me in the same profound ways. I respond to specific pieces much more selectively, as opposed to say, the entire genre of Renaissance sculpture. There were a few pieces in the  Contemporary and Modern Art gallery that I enjoyed, like this Tall Figure IV, by Alberto Giacometti. I especially love the quote on the description, "The legs are only the mind's antenna to the earth." I feel like I've seen his work somewhere before that stood out to me, but looking through his Wiki page, I can't imagine where it would have been.
"The legs are only the mind's antenna to the earth."
I also loved this very fluid woman, and the way her shadow was of a slightly different woman.  

I just loved the description of the name of this piece. I also loved the huge swath of orange.

Afterwards, we took leisurely stroll through the sculpture garden and gift shop, where we picked up some fun souvenirs for our littles. It's such a comprehensive and accessible museum, I'd love to bring Alice there soon so I can share my love of art history and inspire her earlier than I discovered my own enjoyment.
she seemed startled by the freeway on-ramp sign and the cars whizzing past.

photos of waterlilies




I'm a little behind in my photos and blogging, and you know, life in general. Maybe you are, too? What did you enjoy over the long holiday weekend?