How The Sphinx Got To The Museum written and illustrated by Jessie Hartland is the entertaining story of how the sphinx was built, broken, discovered, repaired and displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. In the style of “This is the House that Jack Built” and “I know an Old Lady who swallowed a Fly,” “How the Sphinx Got to the Museum” tells the story of the life of the sphinx from its commissioning by the Pharaoh Hatshepsut to its display in New York; describing the jobs of each individual who handles it along its journey and adding them to a repeating litany, all of the way back to the Pharaoh.
At the end of the story, the entire chain of events that led to the placement of the sphinx in the museum is reviewed with, “[h]ere is the Docent, who loves museum, has read all about ancient Egypt, and likes to talk to visitors about the Sphinx that was …documented by the Photographer, painted and restored by the Artist, officially numbered by the Registrar, carefully lifted by the Riggers, repaired by the Conservators, welcomed by the Curator, packed and unpacked by the Art Movers, approved by the Department of Antiquities, uncovered by the Archaeologist, broken by the stepson, prized by the Egyptian priests, carved by the sculptor and ordered by the Pharaoh…and, at last, is ready to be visited by you!” Whew!
A mix of fact and fiction, How The Sphinx Got To The Museum is an entertaining tale of travel and discovery. It provides an explanation of how museums acquire objects and the behind the scenes activities that take place before you see something in a gallery. It was great at describing each person’s job and how they fit into the chain of events that led to the display of the sphinx. The rhyming language and repetition in the story is particularly enjoyable for younger children and will definitely be of interest to any budding Egyptologists.
The sphinx can be seen in Gallery 131 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has tons of things to do with children including family maps, special guides, suggested itineraries and family audio guides just to name a few.