Monday, December 14, 2015

My (very early) morning at the Museum

Edmonton said goodbye to the old Royal Alberta Museum last weekend by inviting the public to a 48-hour marathon farewell. I talked about it with my girls and mentioned that if we were to attend, we should pick a time when it wouldn't be too crowded -- like four in the morning (over 35,000 people visited in those 48 hours, and my sister experienced the crowds on Friday night and wished she'd stayed home).

"Let's do it!" said Julia, our youngest daughter. So I told her to set her alarm for 4 a.m. Sunday morning and we'd go.

At 4:15 a.m. Julia came and woke me from a very sound sleep. I was confused by her appearance in our room until she said, "It's time to go to the museum, Mom."

"Do you really want to go?" I asked, preparing to haul myself out from under my warm blankets.

"Not really," she said, and headed back to her bedroom. Oh well.

But you don't wake me at 4:15 a.m. and expect me to go back to sleep. I laid in bed hoping to doze off, but after 45 minutes I decided: "Maria, if you don't get up and go to the museum to say goodbye, it will be one of those things you'll regret." (I've always been a sentimental fool of sorts.)

Had to see these pioneers one more time.
I tried to wake my girls to take them along, but they seemed more interested in their pillows, so I ate some breakfast, made a travel mug of coffee, and drove through a dark and disorienting downtown, arriving at the museum at 5:31 a.m.

As I walked in, I realized that it was the first time I had ever been to the Royal Alberta Museum alone. I found myself moodling about how museums are a place of wonder and awe about life as I spent a lovely two hours wandering around, remembering different experiences from my past:

as a grade five student learning about Alberta's first peoples,


 as a grade eight student learning to identify Alberta wildlife, 

I always loved the cub on the lower right, playing with a feather
as a teacher bringing my own grade four class to learn about rocks, 

Mark S. and Jon H. liked the UV rock room...
and as a mom, trying to stay calm as my child held a centipede from Madagascar!

"Mom! Mom! It doesn't feel slimy at all!"
Walking through the museum by myself was quite wonderful. 
There was no one to hurry me along 
so I looked at things at my own speed 
and even watched an entire 15-minute video loop 
about Aboriginal traditions from start to finish. 
But I'll admit it would have been much nicer 
to share the experience with my girls 
(who in the end were sorry to have missed one last visit to the museum).

At the end of my morning, I went to the Goodbye/Hello room
 and found myself a little emotional 
as I wrote my own message to sum up 
my 30+ years of experience at the museum:


On the way home, I was rewarded with a gorgeous sunrise
along the boardwalk overlooking Victoria Park.


The museum closed its doors nine hours later, 
and will reopen in a new location in downtown Edmonton
in two years. It will be hard for the new museum 
to beat the memories I treasure from its old location,
that's for sure.

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