The Audio Guide for Kids features thirteen tours that are ideal for children ages 6–12 and their families. These tours have specially designed messages for artworks throughout all of the major areas of the Museum. Below, listen to three select audio messages from a variety of these tours.
Narrator: How many different animals make up the creature you see here, in this marble sculpture? This mythical being has a woman's head, a lion's body, and the wings of a eagle. It's called a sphinx. Look closely at the stone for traces of paint. All Greek marble sculptures were originally painted in bright colors. Does anything about this sculpture give you the idea that the sphinx has a violent temper? Its muscles are tense, and its tail lashes and curls from side to side.
In one Greek legend, the sphinx stood outside the city of Thebes, killing anyone who could not answer its riddle. The Greeks put sphinxes like this one on tombs, to guard against grave robbers. This sculpture comes from the top of a tall grave monument, or stele. You can see this stele on your left. It has a plaster cast of the sphinx on top, so you can see what the whole monument looked like.
Narrator: This little blue hippo was buried in an Egyptian tomb almost four thousand years ago. The black designs on the hippo's body are lotus flowers. They represent the flowers growing along the Nile, where hippos spend most of their time. Ancient Egyptians were afraid of hippos because they were so destructive. By making a model like this one, they might have believed that they could ward off and control such power.
Although Egyptians feared hippos, they also admired them as symbols of creation and life. This was because they often saw hippos' heads rising from the muddy waters of the Nile. This motion reminded Egyptians of the way the land emerged every year from Egypt's annual floods. Farming in Egypt depended heavily on the littler rain that Egypt received and on these yearly floods. This hippo is made of faience, a mixture of materials that is fired in a kiln to get the bright blue color. He has been nicknamed "William" and is the unofficial mascot of the Museum.
Narrator: Dozens of ballerinas seem to float through this painting by Edgar Degas. Follow the diagonal line of white tutus from the girl in front, all the way back to the far corner of the room. Only one girl's actually dancing. She's performing an arabesque near the center of the painting. On the right stands the ballet teacher, a man holding a cane. Today, he's giving a test. Each student must dance for him, one at a time, in costume.
Notice the girl closest to us, behind the music stand: she's adjusting the skirt of her tutu. She's the focal point of the painting even though she's not dancing. Degas loved the ballet. But in his art, he usually portrayed dancers hard at work in their off-stage moments when the audience wasn't watching. In the background on the right, four mothers sit watching. Students lounge beside them on the steps, forming a circle. Notice the mirror on the wall—how does this reflection change the picture?