The quick brown fox jumped over the good, but lazy Parker family.

the blanton museum hates babies

Monday, 8 February 2010

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i’m walking into central stairway of the blanton museum today — the art museum attached to the University of Texas at Austin — when a guy jumps out from behind a column and says, peering down the length of his rather long nose:

“excuse me, but diaper bags are *not* permitted in the museum. please use one of the many lockers we have provided for your convenience.”

i have a half-dozen retorts in my mind — “if she spits up, can i borrow a 17th century masterwork?” or, “my convenience would be to keep the bag,” or, leaning over to sparklet and saying, “if you have any poo, fling it now” — but i decide to play along.

as i am walking to said lockers, he calls out after me: “and there is *certainly* no food or beverages allowed in the museum.”

now, i’m even more confused. i check my palms for frosty cold beer-verage. none. i look for a taco platter from taco cabana. nope.

when i make eye contact with he-who-shall-be-annoying, he is giving the stink eye to baby sparklet’s bottle of breast milk.


well, it’s a damn good thing that the lady sparkler wasn’t there, because she would have said “fine,” stripped off her shirt, and sparklet would have started breastfeeding right then and there.

and i would have *loved* to see him try and stop her.

now, at this point, i’m irritated, but not irate. i just know exactly what is going to happen (and they did, in turn):

sparklet poo’ed when we were the farthest we could have possibly been from their lockers. instead of ducking into another bathroom, i got to track a rather uncomfortable (and expressive!) baby through twelve galleries to retrieve the diaper bag.

then, sparklet wanted to eat, and, unlike every other museum we’ve visited, we didn’t have the option of her nursing while she stared intently at the paintings, or even us stopping every once on a bench for a couple ounces.

instead, she would cry for five minutes while we went back to the locker to feed, she would lose interest (remember, i’m feeding in a locker room here), we’d go back to the exhibit where we had left off, sparklet would remember that she wasn’t eating, and she would scream for five minutes while we went back to the locker.

rinse, and repeat.

now, through most of this, i was in a pretty okay mood with the blanton. it’s their collection, if they want to do it this way, then that’s completely their call.

what irritated the bejeezus out of me, was when i realized that a dozen other people were carrying bags around the museum that were *all* bigger than the diaper bag i was forced to lock up.

there were big dallas-housewife-sized shoulder bags, there were camera bags, there were satchels and laptop bags. a student even had a backpack stuffed with what looked like four years of science textbooks.

all of this, however, misses the point.

i guess it’s possible that i just ran into the one docent with an over-developed sense of enforcement, but if that’s not the case … then i am honestly embarrassed for the blanton.

this thick-headed, anti-family crap is what i would expect from a hoity-toity gallery in some uptight, old-monied art gallery in the northeast. it’s not what i would expect from texas, much less from austin, much less from UT.

and, truth be told, the up-tight art gallery in the northeast would just post a sign by the door saying “we ask that you do not bring children younger than five into the exhibit space” which, while also being honest about the gallery’s intent, also allows you to not waste your ticket money.

(when i asked guy-with-long-nose-to-stare-down about getting a refund on my admission based on my new understanding of his rules, he turned on his heels, lifted his nose, and said “enjoy your visit.”)

so, i won’t be going to the blanton again with sparklet … and while i wish it was a high-minded boycott, it actually comes down to their collection.

their masterworks are almost exclusively morose (highlights include two severed-john-the-baptist-heads, one saint agatha with a forced masectomy) and the modern exhibits relied too heavily on items from the looks-like-it-was-painted-by-a-three-year-old school.

blanton. if you are listening … much “bigger” museums seem to find ways to be family friendly. i hope you’ll figure out something, too.