Sunday, July 22, 2007

Night(mare) at the Museum

Randy and I took Mr. Dante to the Museum of Discovery and Science today. It's a Childrens' Museum here in Fort Lauderdale and they had been advertising a dinosaur exhibit that opened in June so we decided it was time for Dante to get to know some dinos. The museum also houses exhibits about space, air travel, sea life, and science and is chock-full of interactive activities for children of all ages. Yea, right.

So we get there and we pay the admission to enter and we head up the escalator to the dinosaur exhibit. Now mind you, I'm originally from NYC where I have spent countless hours at the Museum of Natural History. Maybe I'm spoiled, maybe I expect that kind of caliber of exhibit but when I hear Dinosaur and Exhibit in the same sentence, I'm looking for massive bones and teeth and T-Rex and just a plain old ass kicking good time. NOT in this case. The "Dinosaur Exhibit" consisted of 10-20 robotic dinosaurs positioned in 5 dioramas that looked like a 5th grade class put together with paper mache and crayons. Seriously, the animatronic dinosaurs looked like something out of Toxic Avenger circa 1978 and I even think that they were scientifically inaccurate. Where did they get these dinos? Big Lots? Sam's Club? The Dino Warehouse? They even had speakers playing "dinosaur sounds" which I think that whole series Walking With Dinosaurs proved that they chirped and clicked rather than Godzilla-roared. Needless to say, we were not amused and Mr. Dante was confused and scared at times. So we moved on to the Air and Space section......

Let's see, where to begin. The cockpits and the hangars and the flight simulators were cool, but to actually get a chance to use anything was futile since every kid and their brother was there. No one was taking turns or cooperating and letting little ones have a try. As a matter of fact, more adults were hogging the simulators than the kids DESPITE the nice little placards that read "please limit your simulation time to 3 minutes". Eventually we all got a chance to fly a DC-10, and Dante flew all of us to Spain while Randy and I sipped mimosas in first class. Talented kid we've got there. We were going to try some of the space stuff, but Mr. D was too little for the shuttle sim and it was crowded with little brats lacking parent supervision. So, off we went to the Gizmo Section....

Ideally, the Gizmo section is an area of the museum with tons of interactive puzzles and projects and sounds and lights and buttons and toys and "stuff to play with" all related to science. Ideally. What we got were a bunch of broken exhibits, exhibits that only worked half-assed, or exhibits being hogged, once again, by adults whose kids were running around banging and breaking those gizmos that had not yet been damaged. One only has to look around at the number of unsupervised hellions kicking, punching, pulling, and grabbing at the various work stations to understand why half the shit didn't work. Does anyone say anything to the kids? Is there proper security to ensure that the exhibits are serving their purpose to educate and enrich young minds. NOPE. So we moved downstairs to the "Coral Reef Aquarium".....

This was nice. A simulated coral grotto with various tanks housing some really cool sea life. We saw sharks and gars and big lobsters and eels and big fish that were bigger than my head. Dante was a little frightened at first so to help him enjoy it I said, "Look Dante! It's Nemo's friends!". He seemed to enjoy that, although some asshole frat boy with his anorexic wife and idiot child behind us decided to make fun of me saying that and started mimicking my voice. What the hell is wrong with people? I was trying to comfort my son and this idiot in a "COCKS" hat thinks he has a right to make fun? They shut up quickly after Randy made a comment about sticks, ass, and death. Still though, what nerve.

Finally, the clincher of the day was when we decided to take Mr. Dante into the Activities Area; a place for kids to play and climb and explore. Dante, of course, was too little for the "big stuff" so we decided to take him over to the Toddler Area where he could play with kids his age. Now, to get to the Toddler Area we had to walk around the big fort where the bigger kids were playing. Well, I say "playing" but they were more like "acting like wild animals and throwing shit at eachother and not having any supervision". While walking around World War 3 one of these "precious" little monsters chucked something at his friend that missed Randy's and Dante's head by a fraction of a centimeter. Ok. My husband and my kid are not targets. At this point Randy says he's had about enough so let's go. I see a group of three women next to me, obviously the mothers of these boys who were acting horribly, and I say "Is anyone going to do something about these kids? Is anyone supervising them? They almost hit my son in the head!" To which one of the face-lifted bitches replied snottily, "No." They then had the nerve to sit there and snicker at me and my family while I reprimanded them for not being able to control their children! SNICKERING! What the hell!?!?!? I then complained to the museum staff and left.

Ok, after all that here's my point. People are constantly staring and/or making comments about Randy and Me and our appearance and the fact that we have a child and we have tattoos and I have funny hair and all that jazz. Yet, we know how to behave in public. We have manners. We went to the museum to have an enjoyable day as a family; to expose Dante to cool new things, to let him play in activities and such, and maybe even make a friend. What we got instead we the stares, as usual, kids running around with no regard or respect for their surroundings or the people in those surroundings, stupid questions ("Why do you have all those tattoos? Why is your hair funny?"), and complete and utter lack of respect from other parents who would, should someone have almost hit their child in the head, reacted in the same fashion as Randy and I did.


I grew up knowing that museums were sacred places and they needed to be respected. Whether it be the Louvre, the Uffizi, the Met, or even some dinky childrens' museum in South Florida, there has to be a modicum of manners! Yes, I know. It's a childrens' museum, children will be there, it's going to be loud and yelly, there are going to be the snot-nosed brats from time to time, but this was out of control.And they have the nerve to judge us.....

1 comment:

Dorie said...

Should you ever venture to PA, head to Pittsburgh. They have a rather nice Zoo, Children's Museum, Carnegie Science Center, etc. Very great stuff...or well it was when I was a kid...can't wait to take my son there :) (okay the other places as we have been to the zoo, and it was great)