The gallery goers

DAD-DAUGHTER OUTINGS have become our Saturday morning ritual, which in wintertime means museums (Jo says it with emphasis on the MU). We have lots of excellent options close to home, though the Minneapolis Institute of Arts is our standby. Minneapolis’s little Met, it houses the most expansive and eclectic collections this side of Chicago (early photography, T’ang bronzes, Native American dolls, Conceptualist paintings, artist books, mid-century modern furniture, medieval tapestries…), which you get pretty much to yourself if you come early. We try to arrive as they unlock the doors.

Even when you let the three-year old lead here, you find art you like.

From this position you can toss a penny in the fountain below.

If we like a painting, we imitate poses. Animals are preferred.

Last weekend we opted for the Bell Museum of Natural History, the old-school taxidermy-and-dioramas unit of the University of Minnesota. Johanna is obsessed with the “realness” of stuffed animals, so I figured she was ready.

Made mostly in the 1940s, the Bell’s giant displays have held up well. Here Jo leaves her snout print on the timber wolves diorama.

Do they anthropomorphize the animals a little, or am I projecting? This raccoon seems full of ennui.

“Daddy, where is she taking her baby?” I didn’t feel like correcting her.

Fortunately, most of the simulated behavior is easy to interpret.

It hadn’t occurred to me to ride these, but people under 3′ tall are attuned to stuff like that.

A museum morning inevitably leads to lunch, typically Vietnamese or Chinese. Last month our meal was crashed by raucous Chinese New Year dragons, sending Johanna scurrying under the table in terror. A fortune cookie or two later, it was all but forgotten (Jo’s policy: “You read it, I eat it”).

If time permits on the way home, we play in the snow, which gets easier and grosser as you head into March.

With our sheaf of crayons and pencils (mind the No Markers rule), we do a couple drawings together each museum visit. Sometimes the art creeps in, along with funny things Johanna says.

> Gang of Four – At Home He’s A Tourist

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