Blue Star Museums Blog (Archive)

Blue Star Voices

August 26, 2011

Merci, Madame

Patti Reitz's daughter at the Zach Houston: Poem Store exhibit. Photo by Patti Reitz

From the moment I knew Monet's Water Lilies was on exhibit, I knew I must go to The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. And it's all because of Mme. Bettis.

You see, I took French all through junior and senior high school, and one of the major units of French 5 was the unit on the French Impressionists. We learned art terminology in French, how to discuss brush strokes and lighting, and nuances in shading and color. Our field trip was to the St. Louis Art Museum, where we saw just one panel of Claude Monet's masterpiece. It was so moving to see, it became a part of me in a way art never had before.

So you can imagine my delight when I learned that the panel I'd seen in 1987 was going to be reunited with its sibling panels at the Nelson-Atkins this summer. The Water Lilies exhibit was given to us for being a Blue Star family, since the Nelson-Atkins Museum is always free and open to the public. The museum clerk thanked me for my husband's service, which was a lovely thing to hear, and we were on our way through the museum.

The Nelson is a wonderful art gallery, and everything is well-organized (if somewhat confusing at first, but there are plenty of museum personnel to help guide visitors to the exhibits they wish to see). Each room has a theme, a different wall color, and a particular "feel."

One unique summer addition was the live poetry exhibit, Zach Houston: Poem Store. Houston, for a donation, would write a poem on his manual typewriter upon request. My daughter requested a poem about dolphins, which he took as a play on the word "dauphin," and he went from there. It was interesting. Later on, there was a display for patrons to respond to Houston and his poetry, with several manual typewriters and paper available. My daughter wrote a poem on the typewriter, which she thought was great fun (and yes, I had to show her how to use the carriage return).

We finally made our way downstairs to the Monet's Water Lilies exhibit, where I felt in awe of the three panels, reunited in one place. There were probably 50 or so people sitting and regarding the art. Others were talking, walking around, walking toward the piece and standing farther away, to get perspective. Truly awe-inspiring to see this display.

I'd like to say thank you, Blue Star Families, and thank you, Nelson-Atkins staff, for giving my family the opportunity to see Monet's gorgeous triptych.

(Et aussi, si vous lisez ce blog...merci, Madame, pour la presente de l'art et l'Impressionnisme. C'est magnifique!)

This blog post originally appeared on the Blue Star Families blog. Please visit the Blue Star Museums website for more information about the program and to find participating museums.


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