Friday, October 09, 2009

Art in the museum

If you've met Lauren, you know that she is an artist. She draws daily—in homemade comic books, on random scraps of paper, on math homework, napkins, you name it. She's won a few art-related contests here, and her drawing "Tigerland" was recently a finalist in a contest for La Celebración del Día Mundial de los Animales (celebration of world animal day) here in the San José area.

Last Sunday, the pictures created by the finalists were all hung in the Museo de los Niños (children's museum) in San José, and we went there for a ceremony to honor the kids. Everyone received a certificate and a year's worth of Pets y Mas magazines. Lauren, despite her reluctance to use her Spanish, is enjoying reading parts of her magazines and looking at the pictures.

Traveling to the museum requires a trip into downtown San Jose and a drive through a seedy district. There is a lot of poverty in the area as well, so it's a seemingly unusual location for a children's museum.

The museum has a fascinating history as well—it is a former barracks and penitentiary. The prison housed some of the country's worst criminals from 1910 to 1979 and was said to be horrible and chaotic. Some of the prison's former cells have been preserved, and along the walls in the entry is an art exhibit about the prison's history, including many before-and-after photos of the prison and now castle-like museum.  There are ghost stories about the place as well, with one in particular about a five-year-old girl who went to visit her father in prison and was killed by him during her visit. Yet despite the spooky past of the place, the museum really is a terrific place for the kids with lots of cool exhibits.

After the ceremony we walked around for a bit and decided to get home before it got too dark and rained too hard. (Yeah, we didn't escape the rain, but it's October—very normal here.)  It was a fun twist to an otherwise ordinary, rainy season Sunday.