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Introducing Kids to Art Museums

by Barbara Rogers

Dec 9, 2017

© Laurentiuz | Dreamstime

Travel Tips

Bringing kids to an art museum can be rewarding, but it can also be trying for parents who want to share their love of art with a child more focused on getting to the cafeteria for ice cream when the tour is over. The best way to avoid meltdowns (and that includes your own) is get the kids involved in a way meaningful to them. With just a little prep work, it’s not as hard as you think. Obviously all of these ideas are not appropriate for all ages, so adapt to your own child’s age.

 

United States, New Hampshire, Manchester, Currier Gallery of Art, Toulous Lautrec exhibit 2017,

Photo: Stillman Rogers

 

Prepare:

  • Ask yourself, what is my child interested in? Sports? Cooking? Music? What gets him/her excited?
  • With this in mind, check out the museum’s website and look through the exhibits, noting those your child might have more interest in. Find out if the museum has a scavenger hunt for kids. If not, make your own.
  • Find pieces of artwork that will interest your child and unique elements for them to look for. Print a copy of the floorplan and highlight their locations.
  • Pack a pencil, pencil sharpener and a sketch book or some blank paper — if your kids aren’t enthusiastic about drawing, just let them know it’s there if they want it. They may surprise you!

During your visit:

  • Look for small details and challenge the kids to find things others might not notice.
  • Play “I Spy” to get them really looking at the exhibits.
  • Encourage the kids to take photos if the gallery allows it. Be sure they disable the flash.
  • If there are common elements, have them see how many they can find. (How many paintings with roses can you find? How many Roman busts are missing a nose?)
  • Is there an artist your kids really liked? If so, check the museum shop — most have kids’ books about individual artists or interactive books that bring the artists’ lives and work to life. Use this to encourage their own creativity and expression.
United States, New Hampshire, Manchester, Currier Gallery of Art, Toulous Lautrec exhibit 2017,

Currier Gallery of Art. Photo: Stillman Rogers

Suggestions for after your visit (courtesy of the Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, N.H.):

  • Talk about the visit, and ask the kids to tell you about their favorite works.
  • Ask, is there anything you wanted to spend more time on? Any type of artwork you found out you really like or dislike?
  • Create a piece of sculpture together inspired by a favorite piece, using materials you already have from around the house.

Most importantly, ask questions — What do you see in this picture? Do you think the artist is trying to say something about the subject? How does it make you feel when you look at it? What are the people in it feeling — scared, confident, happy, sad?

 

You may get some unexpected answers, as a docent at the Baltimore Art Museum in Maryland did recently. She was guiding a school group and as they stopped in front of Rodin’s “The Thinker” she asked, “What do you suppose he is thinking about?”

 

A little boy piped up, “He’s thinking ‘Where did I leave my clothes?’”

#WhereverFamily

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