Well, after almost nine months “The Museum” is once again open for business.
The Museum is the name my grandchildren gave their arts and craft area that was dedicated to their use in my rec room. For years the kids created their masterpieces using all sorts of medium, from crayons to watercolors. No matter how those artworks looked to outsiders, we considered them great works of art and the best of them were taped, glued, and using any means available attached to the walls of my rec room.
About two years ago, after having visited an art museum with their parents, they christened the rec room “The Museum” and with great seriousness took great pains to display their artwork. They and I were very proud of the museum so it was with a great deal of sadness that it was destroyed last July. On July 19, 2011, we had a rain storm of epic proportions. Over 5 inches of rain fell in just three hours the result of which was that the sewers in my area backed up into our basement and destroyed The Museum.
At the time Donna Noble, who is our parenting columnist, mentioned The Museum in her article Nurturing The Artist Part III. Over the next eight months or so doing all the work myself, I not only rebuilt The Museum but created a new, improved and expanded version of The Museum. In the old museum the kids shared a work table, which consisted of an old table top sitting on top of crates and measured about 3 ft. x 5 ft.
My first inclination was to buy individual tables for each grandchild. When I told this to my 6-year-old grandson, he suggested that I cut the old table in half and save a lot of money. He was so proud of the fact that he was going to save grandpa a lot of money that I could do no else. So at great risk to my external digits I drug out my old circular saw and dutifully cut the table in half. This was just the start of an experience that will serve as the basis of my new reality show — DIY or Die Trying. I purchased wood to make stands for the new tables, and since I was not too adept at woodworking, I also purchased a power router, a table saw, a reciprocal saw and various other power tools that to me seemed to be designed for the maximum damage that they might do to one's body.
Although I didn’t know what I was doing, I persevered. I slapped mud on drywall. Routed my own baseboards from a product known in home improvement circles as MDF (medium density fiberboard). I even did something I have always been afraid of — doing electrical wiring. I added spotlights over each kid's work area and I must say that I am proud of myself; no sparks or fires and I never got shocked once. Of course I take all precautions when working with electricity. I put on rubber gloves and rubber boots. I turned off the main power supply switch and actually pulled the circuit breaker for the rec room. When it come to amps and volts I try to prepare for watt ever comes up. (Pardon the pun).
Despite all the difficulties, expense and risk to life and limb, I managed to finish the new museum and we held the grand opening a few days ago. The kids were delighted with their new work place. They quickly sat down and I thought they were each going to create their first masterpiece for The Museum. Not being one who ever had a sibling rivalry, I was a little dismayed by what occurred. Instead of creating their first work of art for display, each kid staked their claim to the space available. My grandson made a sign stating that his area was know as “Alec’s Art Room." Not to be outdone, my granddaughter quickly made a sign with an arrow showing one and all where “Siena’s Art Table” was.
All in all, rebuilding the museum was quite an experience. I learned a lot: a lot about myself and a lot about power tools. I was hesitant to even rebuild the rec room. I could have put the insurance money in my pocket and let the rec room go back to just being a basement. My nephew Tim Bishman is a realtor and he said that rebuilding the rec room would be great for the resale value of my house. Thanks a lot Tim!
In this depressed housing market I think I am going to have to wait awhile before I get my money out of this rebuild. And I doubt if I will ever get back the value of my labor. But, there is something else to consider and that is the value of nurturing the artist within my grandchildren. Even though neither may make art a career, I feel the value of the acquired creativity and appreciation for art just for art’s sake was more than worth it.