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At the Whitney Museum coat check, I swear my recollection is they just take your bag and give you a plastic chip. At MOMA they make you open your bag, ask you about the contents, and reject certain items! Here's how a recent visit went down:
"Sir, you have to open your bag."
"You're kidding. OK, check it out. There's a scarf in here, a music software manual, my Daytimer..."
"What's in that pouch?"
"I'll have to ask you to carry that."
"You're kidding. Say--when did you start doing this, interrogating people about their bag contents?"
"I've only worked here six months but" (eyes widening) "of course all bags have to be inspected since 9/11."
"Yeah, right, but that was six years ago!"
At this point some tourists were looking over uneasily, wondering what the "scene" was about.
Thanks, MOMA, for setting a friendly, contemplative mood at the entrance to your museum.