Once again, I was off on an adventure-filled field trip with P’s preschool class! Destination: the Petit Palais, a beautiful museum built for the 1900 World’s Fair. The name “Little Palace” really suits this extraordinary structure as it does indeed feel like a palace (wish I lived there!).
Bright, airy galleries surrounded by windows… and all of this encircling a beautiful garden. This is the sort of museum that you actually want to visit on a sunny day rather than a rainy day. How could anyone resist this?
As you probably can guess, our school outings are always eventful. Previous escapades have included a pickpocket in the subway, one child almost pushing another out of the subway as the doors were about to close and poor P. being pushed and falling on her head.
This time, all went smoothly in the subway, all went smoothly as we made our way through the museum (except for one child jumping on the marble base of a statue). Then the children sit down in front of a painting to listen to our guide. Sounds promising, right? Right. Until we see a man lurking around our group, camera in hand, and all of a sudden he starts snapping photos of the children! Not angles that could possibly be the gallery as a whole or a painting. He clearly was taking pictures of our class.
When one of the mothers raced over to him and told him to stop, he mumbled something about how it wasn’t a big deal to take a shot of a group of children. To the moms and dads accompanying the kids, it was indeed a big deal and gave us a strange feeling as we moved on to the next part of the museum. There again, to our disbelief, we were met with the same experience… This time another man trying the same thing. Again, one of the mothers intercepted.
In this beautiful place, we sat almost in disbelief. Were we naïve? I don’t think so. In our normal minds, it seems completely absurd to surreptitiously take photos of a bunch of children one doesn’t even know.
This experience of course doesn’t change the way I feel about going to museums or any other public place. It simply makes me more vigilant.
Thankfully, this strange experience didn’t ruin the children’s day at the museum and we too were able to turn our attention back to the beauty around us.
To end on a positive note, I’ll share some photos…