The book is a love letter to the monumental institution where [Coulson] worked for more than 25 years, starting as an intern in the European Paintings department in 1991 ... Ms. Coulson must have spent quite a bit of time dreamily wandering the Met’s galleries letting her imagination run wild. Ghosts appear; furniture and paintings come alive, express their opinions and tell their stories ... Unfortunately, while Ms. Coulson’s erudition is impressive, her writing often descends into sentimentality. Her stories are original and insightful, but the prose is cluttered. Characters don’t merely speak; they chime in, sputter, quip, snort, chomp, shrug, squeak, quiver, screech, bark or warble. Nevertheless, as I wandered through the museum the other day, past tourists frenetically snapping pictures on their cellphones, I thought how Ms. Coulson’s book, for all its flaws, captured the spirit of the place and brought it magically to life.
Coulson’s 25 years on staff at the Metropolitan Museum of Art inspired this vivid, comedic, tender, and episodic debut about the unexpected forms life and consciousness take in that vast trove ... Coulson is emotionally keen, acerbically witty, fleetly imaginative, and lyrically resonant, her love for the Met, for humanness, and for beauty radiant on each surprising page.
Coulson’s sly, whimsical debut takes the form of a collection of connected stories set in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Grounded in the author’s decades of experience working at the Met, the surreal stories scamper among multiple points of view, both human and other ... The Met that emerges from these stories is both grandiose and cheerfully mundane, a place so packed with wonders that no one person can know them all. Those who think they know the place will be beguiled by the look behind the scenes; those unfamiliar with it will be prompted to make its acquaintance
What really goes on behind the scenes and after hours at a major museum? In this series of loosely linked surreal vignettes, Coulson takes us on a tour of the hidden world that tourists never see ... Magical realism requires finesse, and while some of Coulson’s fables offer a bit of fun whimsy ...clunky prose too often spoils the mood ... Coulson obviously loves her former employer, but her vignettes never add up to more than the sum of their parts. Still, this will sell in the Met's store as an alternative guidebook to its rich treasures.