Every time we go to a museum, my daughter wants something from the gift shop.
This past weekend we were at the Dia: Beacon. It’s not a Children’s Museum where they’ve dressed up a playground with some science facts and you hope it sticks. There’s no Curious George exhibit, nor does Arthur teach you about bubbles. And thankfully there’s no Franklin, though God only knows what he’d have to teach anyone. No, this is a real museum museum. There’s literally piece of art that is shards of glass in a pile. (Side note: when I cautioned my daughter that she was too close to a different, less dangerous piece, the museum staff said, “Oh, actually you can walk on that piece.”)
All the signs are there: No Fun Toys Ahead. And yet, my daughter is desperate to visit the gift shop. Maybe they will have a rubber pile of glass toy! A Richard Serra paperweight? Or perhaps the disturbing video installation piece will have a commemorative pencil. I don’t know what she expects. I suspect she thinks of all museums as giant, boring lobbies to a toy store.
In any case, most museums happily fulfill her expectations. The Met has cute mummy books and the MOMA has coloring books inspired by Rothko and so on. And most of these “toys” are so gunked-up with learning, that you know they won’t be played with for very long. And anyway, the mark-up is huge. You parents know all this! It’s a racket.
My proposal: fill gift shops with groceries or other shit I have to pick up anyway. I just don’t want to blow my money on a cubist tchotchke when I need eggs. Or toiletries. Maybe we could exit through the Rite Aid? Help us out, museums!
Brilliant! We are so lucky to live where there are a million museums. It would be so awesome if they came with a CVS in them.