Museums & the Movies: Don’t Eat the Pictures!

March 8, 2013

Entertainment, USA

It’s only been a couple of weeks since the last ‘Museums & the Movies’ feature, but towards the end of the month we’ll be heading on a two week holiday to Washington, D.C. – a museum lover’s dream – with some special posts lined up for that, so I thought I’d pull the next edition of forward a bit. And boy do I have a special little treat in store for you!

Don’t Eat the Pictures: Sesame Street at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1983)

Location: New York City
Starring: Metropolitan Museum of Art

This absolute gem from the archives of Jim Henson – sadly not available on DVD but you can watch it in eight parts on YouTube – sees the Sesame Street gang descend on the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Actually, once you start listing movies that feature museums, the MET racks up quite a few appearances. The premise is that Big Bird runs off to meet his imaginary friend Mr. Snuffleupagus just before closing time, with the others following after to find him when he doesn’t return, and everyone getting locked up in the museum over night as a result.

The main storyline that threads itself through the movie is Big Bird and Snuffy’s attempts to help Prince Sahu, whom they meet in the Egyptian exhibit, solve a riddle he’s been stumped by for 4,000 years. Only the correct answer to the question “Where does today meet yesterday?” (the answer is not Cleveland, by the way) will help Sahu to become a star and join his parents in the sky. The storyline’s grand finale features the museum’s magnificent Temple of Dendur.

dendur

But it’s the scenes with the rest of the Sesame Street gang trying to find their yellow feathered friend within the galleries, and their interactions with the exhibits (and what is possibly the stupidest museum guard in the history of museum movies), that really steal the show. From Ernie and Bert geeking out in front of a portrait of George Washington, to Grover serenading a suit of armour. The highlight, or should I say highlights, are two songs performed by Oscar the Grouch and the Cookie Monster.

Oscar is disgusted by all the shiny gold frames and the general lack of mud in the museum, but he brightens up when he discovers a room full of ancient Greek and Roman statues, many of which are broken – in Oscar’s eyes, the most beautiful trash he’s ever seen:

“Broken and beautiful, fractured and rare.
Missing pieces that used to be there.
Busted and heavenly, trash from afar.
To me you look complete,
Hey, who needs hands and feet?
When you’re beautiful, beautiful, just as you are.”

Cookie Monster, on the other hand, is being his usual greedy self and can barely be restrained from eating the delicious looking still lifes, leading him to sing the title song about museum etiquette:

“See pretty picture with lady inside
It look delicious, me fit to be tied!
Me love to eat it with sugar and cream.
But no, no, no! Me know the rules!
Picture exciting, but not for biting!

Don’t eat the pictures, no, no, no.
Don’t eat the pictures, no, no, no.
Don’t eat the pictures, no!
When you go to museum.”

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Whether you’re a fan of Sesame Street, museums or just in search of a fun movie to spend an hour with, “Don’t Eat the Pictures” is absolutely delightful. Perhaps you’ll even manage to solve the riddle before Big Bird does!

Fun Fact: The Metropolitan Museum of Art is credited as a special guest star.

Best Quotes:

“If I see another masterpiece I’ll go mad!”
(Oscar the Grouch)

“It’s a Cezanne.
Ce what?
Cezanne. Paul Cezanne.
Oh. Looks like picture to me.”
(Bob & Cookie Monster)

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