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Let’s go to the museum

Posted on Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012.

Constance Christensen (l) and and her daughter Elizabeth Foster (r)

Constance Christensen is a retired attorney and the mother of four adult children, and one of her daughters, Elizabeth (“Liz”) Foster, jumped at the opportunity to record a conversation with her at Brooklyn Museum this spring.

A big part of Liz and her siblings’ childhood was regular visits to museums with their parents. Connie says she loved art, but she knew that if her children didn’t want to stay at the museum, then she wouldn’t be able to. Connie knew she had to get creative.

“So, I invented games,” she said, and remembered how she asked her children questions, like “Which piece has your favorite color?” until it evolved into a game they called What I’d Take Home.

During the interview, Liz and Connie explained the rules to me.

Rule #1: The piece had to be something that would actually fit in their house.

Rule #2: You had to talk about where it would go in the house and explain why.

Rule #3: You had to explain why you chose that particular piece.

Liz smiled as she and her mother remembered all the art pieces they would’ve taken home, with Liz remarking that at a young age, museums and art galleries could have been very boring for her and her siblings, “but you made it fun — so much fun that I still care about art today.” Thanks to those games, Liz, still carries a bank of art knowledge.

Connie just smiled back. Thanks to their game, Connie and her children came to view the museum as a way to celebrate their bond and be a part of their community. It was a pleasure to see that it was possible for a career woman to find time to enjoy her children and explore her interests. You just have to figure out the right game to play.

Brooklyn Museum is a 2011 National Medal winner. The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) awards The National Medal to five libraries and five museums for extraordinary civic, educational, economic, environmental, and social contributions to their communities. This award is the nation’s highest honor for museums and libraries, and StoryCorps is proud to record the stories of these distinguished institutions. Click here for a full list of this year’s awardees.

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