Justin, Victoria and I visited the Rodin Museum on Thursday. It was the first day of NancyCamp – the activities that I’ve planned for the two of them on the lazy summer days of June and July. I planned a photography contest for this outing – who could take the best photo of The Thinker? And, maybe we could find a Thinker necktie for their dad because his was lost and everyone wanted him to have a replacement. Both children were excited to go.
Contest rules had been set: two categories (best Thinker photo and best of Rodin museum.) Jon and Adriana would be the judges. They wouldn’t know which child had taken which photo as they viewed them on our TV. Enthusiasm was quite high.
I found a great parking space under a tree right in front of the museum so as we walked up the path, The Thinker was the first sculpture we saw. The photos began immediately as I coached the two children on trying new and unusual angles and poses. They were snapping furiously, then Justin’s camera battery ran out, so he had to switch to my iPhone, a brief setback, but he’s resilient and the contest continued.
Then we toured the inside of the museum room by room – more sculptures, more photos, and some wonderful information by the docent. Did we know that Rodin was so jealous of the work of one of his fellow sculptors, Camille Claudel, that he slipped back into their shared studio at night and signed some of her work? (Later he married her. Go figure.) We discussed the story of The Burghers and compared the hand sculptures. Why is one pair nearly closed while there’s space between the others? (One holds a secret.) Stories to bring home.
As we left, we stopped at the gift shop and found – not a tie – but sox for Jon and a black baseball cap for Bo. Both had pictures of The Thinker on them. Then after a stop at a Mr. Softee truck for snow cones, we put our souvenirs into the trunk and headed back across the bridge to New Jersey.
It was then as I was driving home that it hit me: WHAT WAS I THINKING?
Why in heaven’s name would I buy a hat for Bo that has “The Thinker” on it? Could there be a worse idea? $22.50 for a bad joke? Had I lost my mind? All the way home, I was thinking of the irony of him wearing the hat, this dear man who can’t think clearly about anything. Luckily, when I checked the hat at home, it only has a picture on the front and the words, “Philadelphia Museum of Art” on the back — not the words “The Thinker” as I had convinced myself in the car. He would have no idea what the picture is.
Overall, NancyCamp was a success and we’re going back to the Rodin at the children’s request next week so they can try their hand at sketching one of the sculptures. Next, we’ll go to see VanGoth’s Sunflowers at the Museum of Art. No more souvenirs.