The Astor Court
Now we go upstairs to what turns out, somewhat surprisingly, to have been Kate's favorite stop on the Metropolitan Museum grown-ups/kids equal-rights tour. Climb the big staircase and walk back toward Fifth Avenue, then travel north along the second-floor Asian galleries. You will walk through many rooms full of mysterious and exotic things, with your 5-year-old just starting to get bored, to a Chinese courtyard, which is like entering another world. This is the Astor Court, a reconstruction of a 16th-century Ming garden. There is a koi pond with enormous fish that kids are drawn to, but I think it's the surprise of finding this impressive, serene, skylit, and seemingly secret outdoor space after trudging through gallery after gallery that elates them. And of course, the unexpected sound of water. But after all the fun stuff -- angels, knights -- things you think a child would relate to better because of their familiarity, this was Kate's favorite. She told me this long after I thought she had forgotten about it. In other words, a child will like it for the same reason we do -- the strangeness and sense of magical peace, all by surprise. The Met is full of those moments.