This past weekend, we took a jaunt down to London town. The Critter is studying the works of Henri Rousseau in school this term, and my Bride had the bright idea that instead of just reading about or looking at reproductions of his works, we could take advantage that we live within shouting distance of some of the best museums on the planet, and try and go see the originals. (Rousseau is the latest artist that the Critter has studied. The Queen's School for Girls believes in starting them early on their art appreciation. I had to look up both Rousseau and their first artist: Wassily Kandinsky, who, it turns out, is a Russian abstract artist, famous for drawing circles, among other things. Of course, I think that Conan cover illustrations constitutes fine art, so what do I know?)
Anyway, the whole trek down to London was a fine way to spend a weekend, and we had the Critter totally excited about going to see a museum. Which is a Good Thing™. We got there fairly early on, encountering very little traffic (it's a three and a half hour drive on a good day), and parked our car at the hotel. We cabbed it over to the National Gallery and went inside to start hunting for surreal jungle paintings. The Critter was totally into it. The place is huge, and built like a bit of a labyrinth, with a lot of individual rooms which can lead you around in circles of 16th century Dutch masterpieces until you feel like you've seen every pasty-white version of Moses ever contemplated (who grew up in a Middle Eastern family under the Egyptian sun, even if every painting of him or other Biblical figures look like they'd have needed SPF 300 or risk crisping under a full moon, let alone the desert sun).
After about 30 minutes of fruitless search, I asked one of the docents wear we could find the Rousseau works. The Critter looked at her with all her hopeful not-quite-five-year-old excitement barely contained. She had been clutching her Getting to Know Henri Rousseau primer the entire morning, waiting to see the real thing.
"Oh, that one," said docent-lady. "That's closed."
My bride and I exchanged a quick look of disbelief. "Closed?? Seriously??"
"Yes. But they'll be re-hanging the paintings and that portion of the gallery will be open in two weeks, if you would like to come back."
I thought quick. How to salvage this trip from being a complete waste of time.
"Hmm. What about Van Gogh? She knows Van Gogh, too."
"Unfortunately, that's also closed."
Awesome. The Critter's gave me a look to say 'you dragged me on a long car trip and a lot of walking around looking at strange pale people looking constipated, for what exactly?' Yeah, well. We had the same conversation with Ireland
We quickly ran to the gift shop and found a refrigerator magnet with a Rousseau jungle print on it. This seemed to pacify the Critter's disappointment. But I'm pretty sure we're not getting her back into a museum anytime soon.
In good news, we did eat lunch at the Texas Embassy cantina, just down the street from the National Gallery. In addition to the decent Tex Mex served (which seemed tremendously better than it probably was in actuality, given the absolute lack of anything resembling Mexican food served elsewhere in England), they had honest-to-goodness iced tea on the menu. We drank about five gallons between the three of us.