“Are those heads broken off a real person? Are those fossilized heads?” Chandler Deppert asks.
Chandler is visiting the IU Art Museum with his mother, Tara Deppert, and his 11-year-old brother, Quinton Deppert. He is a curious, energetic and loud almost 7-year-old.
He explores the museum and is curious about all of the ancient artifacts he sees. Chandler allows his imagination to wander, and the context of the pieces do not impact his thoughts as they do for many adults.
“He wants to be an architect,” Tara says. “But he doesn’t like to do art.”
Bringing a young child to a museum is no easy task. Chandler touches the glass cases and gets reprimanded by the museum security. He runs around the exhibits, lies on the floor and rolls around on the couches.
The Depperts make their way to the second floor of the museum: Arts of Asia and the Ancient Western World.
A mummy case lid grabs Chandler’s attention.
“Is it real? Who’s inside of it? King Tut?” Chandler asks while touching the glass case.
Chandler is reminded that he can’t touch the displays, but he remains unfazed.
On to ancient Greece.
Chandler and Quinton look at a piece of pottery titled “A Barber Cutting Man’s Hair.”
Chandler is confused by its intact condition and says, “It’s not that ancient.”
Quinton corrects his little brother. “It was made before the Common Era — before year one.” He then pats Chandler’s head in a loving manner.
“Who was born in year one?” Chandler asks.
“Jesus,” Quinton replies in a matter-of-fact tone.
As Chandler walks around the ancient Greece section, he sees a wider statue and exclaims, “That’s (Dudley) Dursley from ‘Harry Potter’!”
* * *
Chandler goes to look at a Japanese figure’s face, which does not have an eyeball in either of its eye sockets.
“He looks like he doesn’t have any eyes,” Chandler says. “He looks dead.”
Then he looks at a multicolored lion sculpture in mid-roar from the Tang Dynasty. He frequently makes pop culture references toward the artwork.
Chandler points at it while walking and exclaims, “It’s the lion from the Irish Lion!”
* * *
Now on to the most important part of Chandler’s museum visit — the gift shop.
Chandler eats a chocolate chip cookie and takes full advantage of the museum’s free cups of water. He demands a second glass from the woman at the register.
He thinks he’s discovered the best service the museum has to offer, which costs, according to him, “zero dollars and zero cents.”
Chandler and Quinton touch expensive pieces in the gift shop, and Tara is getting annoyed.
The family is going to Malibu Grill after the museum visit, and she threatens the boys by saying, “If you don’t stop, we will buy you the cheapest kid’s meals on the menu.”
* * *
Off the Depperts go to the third floor: Arts of Africa, the South Pacific and the Americas.
With so many sculptures to look at, they all begin to look the same to Chandler. So he decides that he too could be a sculpture.
He begins to make robotic movements and says, “I’m a sculpture.” Then he begins to sing “Mr. Roboto.”
The exhibit is a host to a display of shields and other artifacts from Papua New Guinea. But to Chandler, those aren’t shields — they are surfboards.
“I want to go on a surfboard and get eaten by a shark,” he says.
The display showcases a picture of the people of Papua New Guinea. The subjects are frail and wide-eyed as they gaze into the foreign lens of a camera.
Chandler looks at the photo and says, “Those are some pretty creepy people.”
He moves onto the next piece of art: a sculpture of a gaunt man. Quinton owns six frogs and to Chandler, this is what the frog “Skinny would look like in human form.”
* * *
He doesn’t realize it, but Chandler and his family are about to leave the museum.
Chandler says he didn’t particularly enjoy his visit.
“I didn’t like anything — just the mummy case and my cookie,” he says.
Why did he like the mummy case lid so much?
“I always wanted to go to Egypt,” he says. “But not right now because there is a war going on.”
After a day of mummies, surfboards and an endless supply of water, even this kid with a big imagination has had enough.
“Are we done searching the whole museum?” Chandler asks.
“Yes, we’ve seen the whole thing,” Tara replies.
Chandler has a big smile on his face and exclaims, “It’s finally over!”