Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, Year 2034 CE

@Victoria766 (Museum Docent): Welcome children! I am so glad to have the third graders of the Triborough Technology and Performing Arts Magnet Charter Elementary School here at the Met today! I was very excited to see you all step out of the bright yellow hovercraft at our museum dock.

My name is @Victoria766, but you can just call me @Victoria. I am going to be showing you the Steven A. Cohen/Monsanto Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I have mind-texted all of you my personal IP address, and you may use it during the tour to mind-text me through your smart watches if you have any questions.

If I ask you a question, remember that you need to answer with your earbuds out, and there is no crowd-texting or googling allowed: you have to answer in your own words.

Children: Awww!!!!!

@Victoria766: Now, would you like to see some art?

Children: YES!

@Victoria766: Wonderful! If you will form into two lines, hold hands, and follow Mrs. Zogbaum-Carvahlo, we are going to enter Gagosian Hall to look at the Early New Millenium Collection.

Children, as we enter the hall, look into the center of the room and tell me what you see inside the laser-fence.

@Beyoncé417: (Jumping excitedly) I know! I know! It’s a Jeff Koons “Balloon Dog” from the early part of the New Millennium!

@Taylor333: She image-googled!!!!

Mrs. Zogbaum-Carvahlo: (Firmly) Settle down everyone.

@Victoria766 @Beyoncé417, you are absolutely correct. We are so proud of this balloon dog. It is considered one of the greatest works of art in American history, and Mr. Cohen paid over one billion dollars for it in 2022. Here at the Met we call it the “American Mona Lisa.”

Oh, I have a mind-text from @Cassius979 with a question: “What is the Mona Lisa?” @Cassius, it is a famous Italian painting that is in the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

@Cole404: My uncle used to know Jeff Koons … but then my uncle got sent away.

@Victoria766: Your uncle was sent away? Oh, I’m so sorry @Cole. Why did that happen?

@Cole404: He was an illustrator.

@Victoria766: Your uncle was a very bad man, @Cole.

OK, let’s move along kids. Children, if you look to your left you can see a whole wall of chewing gum and birdshit paintings by Dan Colen. Oh, and a question from @Atticus992: yes, the chewing gum is real but the pigeon droppings are not — they are painted with something called oil paint.

@Brittany144: What is oil paint?

@Victoria766: Kids, I’m going to let you google that one, as I’m not sure.

@Caleb773: (Raising hand and jumping) I found the answer: it was a kind of paint by artists in the Italian Renaissance to glaze over tempura when they made kitsch.

Mrs. Zogbaum-Carvahlo: @Caleb, tempura is a form of Japanese cooking. You mean tempera …

@Caleb773: But Wikipedia says tempura!

@Victoria766 Hmmm … Before we leave today, let’s drop by the Met basement and ask one of the curators of the Ancient Art room about that: I bet we’ll get a good answer. Moving right along, here is a wonderful painting by Christopher Wool, “SELL THE HOUSE SELL THE CAR SELL THE KIDS.” Can anyone tell me why this is a good painting?

@Abagail937: Because after Mr. Wool painted it, people actually did sell their kids during the Great Environmental Catastrophe of 2025.

@Victoria766: Excellent! That is correct.

@Cassius554: She googled!

@Emma933: (whimpering)They sold the kids?

Mrs. Zogbaum-Carvahlo: Settle down everyone. @Emma you need to suck it up and not ruin this field trip for everyone else.

@Victoria766: While you kids look at the selection of dishtowels by Sam Falls, I have a question for all of you: what is art?

@Setsuko792: Something beautiful that you make.

@Victoria766 No Setsuko, that isn’t it at all. Does anyone know the right answer?

@Edward222: Art is a brand of cool stuff that you have less fortunate people make for you, but you put your name on it.

@Victoria766 Excellent!

@Cassius554: He googled!

@Victoria766 Kids, before I give you a little free time to look at the Damien Hirst vitrine with the rotting cows head being devoured by flies, I want to say just a few more things. Art and culture are very, very important, and the museum is here for you to see things that will inspire you and make you better people. We have very special people here called Gallerists/Curators, who have made sure that you are seeing only the most expensive works available. You are a lucky bunch of kids!

Also, before you leave today your teacher is going to take you to our Children’s Art Lab where we have some less-fortunate children who will follow your instructions and make drawings for you on the digital tablets. We will make sure that your drawings are wirelessly sent to the displays on your parent’s refrigerators.

Oh, and I am getting one more question here. Yes, @Atticus: if you have to pee, there is a restroom. Just walk down the hall and look for the Andres Serrano “Piss Christ” right next to the door.

Mrs. Zogbaum-Carvahlo: Children, I want you all to text @Victoria766 a great big “thank you” from our class.

@Victoria766: Oh, my goodness! I may need to reboot after all of that love! Thanks kids, and I hope to see you again soon.

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John Seed

John Seed is a professor emeritus of art and art history at Mt. San Jacinto College in Southern California. He is also the author of Disrupted Realism: Paintings for a Distracted World (2019) and...