Cecile's school is off on spring break, so we decided to kick off the week by exploring the Renwick Gallery's "Wonder" exhibition, which features large-scale installations made from hundreds if not thousands of commonplace materials: glass marbles, string, index cards, willow branches, etc. Since opening late last year the show has been very popular, appealing to--if not outright soliciting--an Instagram-ready crowd. (Signs announcing "Photography Encouraged" appear in nearly every room.)
It would be dishonest to say I never planned to bring my camera on this outing. For months, I've looked forward to capturing images of my children's marvel with oversized, colorful art as the backdrop. But when we got to the upstairs Grand Salon, Cecile wasn't transfixed by the 48-foot rainbow-threaded installation (lit up to mimic the energy levels released across the Pacific Ocean by the March 2011 Tohoku earthquake: very cool), but instead gaped at the strangeness of so many people lying on the floor taking photos with their smartphones. "Why are they on the floor, Mommy?" she asked again and again with genuine concern. As an adult immersed in the social media culture, I didn't give it much thought beyond, Those are people taking selfies. But now I can't help but wonder whether the museum is so popular because of the art, or because it's the perfect place to pose for a profile picture.
Kids call you to see things differently. Or to at least question what's "normal." Of course, to me, therein lies the real wonder.