Abby, age 10, dives into the beloved book From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg. Join her as she follows in Claudia and Jamie's footsteps.
Abby: "Claudia knew that she could never pull off the old-fashioned kind of running away. That is, running away in the heat of anger with a knapsack on her back. She didn't like discomfort . . . Therefore, she decided that leaving her home would not be just running from some place but would be running to somewhere. To a large place, a comfortable place, an indoor place, and preferably a beautiful place. And that's why she decided upon the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City."
Hi, I'm Abby and I'm 10 years old.
Alice Schwarz: I'm Alice Schwarz. I'm a museum educator here at The Met.
Abby: Well, I first read the book in third or fourth grade and I really liked it, because there were kids my age running away to a museum and I would never imagine doing that. And I think it's a book about bravery and how they were so brave to run away to a place that they never went before.
When did you first read this book?
Alice Schwarz: I read the book first when I was 10 years old. I had just started fifth grade here in New York City. And I used to come to The Met all the time as a kid, and now I have been working here for 31 years. So it's like second home to me. I remember when I read this at 10, I completely got lost in the story. I almost felt like I was traveling through the Museum with Jamie and Claudia. And that's what you can do here at the Museum live—you can get lost, literally, walking through the galleries, and kind of learning things as you go.
These are all the English rooms. You can see a dining room over there. All of those sort of the flowers inside, right? All of that we made, but it's based on ancient Greek architecture. And this is all the Book of the Dead.
So, Abby, if you ran away and came to spend a week at The Met, who would you bring?
Abby: I really don't know. I would probably bring my brother, because he would not be going around touching everything like my other sisters, And I feel like he could keep a secret. I am very organized, so I can read maps and follow directions. He's very good at building things. So if something would break, he would know how to put it back together.
Alice Schwarz: Perfect!
Abby: Do you know some places that are true and not true in the book?
Alice Schwarz: Well pretty much everything that Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler talks about in the book, we have something here at the Museum that's very similar to it.
Abby: "The bed had a tall canopy, supported by an ornately carved headboard at one end and by two gigantic posts at the other."
"Claudia looked as satisfied as the bronze statue of the Egyptian cat she was standing near."
Alice Schwarz: And then look at the tiny whiskers at the front.
Abby: Whoa, yeah. There's eagles, there's a goat, I think.
Were they originally painted blue?
Alice Schwarz: Yes, it's something called faience.
So look, do you see the columns there? [Abby: Oh, I see the resemblance!] Those are the columns. So everything you see here with the fountain in the middle? That used to be one long fountain.
Abby: Do they turn off the fountains at night?
Alice Schwarz: That's a very good question. I don't know!
Abby: "Claudia hid her violin case in a sarcophagus that had no lid. . . . It was a beautifully carved Roman marble sarcophagus."
Alice Schwarz: It's just like that, right?
Abby: Yeah! So this is real?
Alice Schwarz: This is a Roman sarcophagus, a couple of thousand of years old. And if you look, do you see the main guy in the center on the back of a panther? That is Bacchus. And then as you look going from the left to the right there are other figures holding objects that represent the four seasons.
Do you remember what a sarcophagus is?
Abby: It's a coffin.
Alice Schwarz: It's a coffin.
And the kids, look at their little toes.
Abby: I know, they're so cute.
Alice Schwarz: They are cute.
Abby: If I could make a wish in the fountain, I would probably wish for good things to happen to my family, and probably to visit the Museum again, because this a very beautiful place and I really like it.
Alice Schwarz: I like that wish.
#MetKids is a digital feature made for, with, and by kids!
#MetKids Contributor: Abby
Museum Educator, Education Department: Alice Schwarz
Book of the Dead of the Priest of Horus, Imhotep (Imuthes)
Special thanks to the Education Department.
Special thanks to the Konigsburg family and Simon & Schuster Inc.
Supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies.
© 2016 The Metropolitan Museum of Art