Art museums allow children — and adults, as well — to look at places they’ve never been, step into past centuries and glimpse how people lived then. As winter approaches and outdoor family travel is more limited, consider taking a trip around the world in a museum.
Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts opens an especially broad window on the world, covering more than 4,000 years of its history and creative achievements. First, stop at the Visitors Center, where you’ll find a series of self-guided Art Connection Activity Cards for kids, following themes throughout the collections to encourage kids to look more closely at art.
Activities and interesting facts cover subjects to engage kids: bugs, horses, mythical creatures and even chocolate. The chocolate card encourages kids to design their own cholate vase, such as the ancient Mayas used for chocolate drinks. The Mythical Creatures card points the way to depictions of dragons, hydras and unicorns; kids are encouraged to design their own mythical creature. You can also download the Art Connection Activity Cards before you go, so children can choose their favorites.
Design your own treasure hunts in the museum, looking at the paintings, sculptures and decorative arts to find animals, foods, flowers, children or something your child likes, such as dogs or cats. How many different kinds of building can they spot? Choose a painting and make up a story to go with it. What are the people doing? What are they thinking?
The sure kid-pleasers in the Museum of Fine Arts are the Egyptian galleries, where they find five real mummies, along with coffins, jewelry, sculpture, carved gems, musical instruments and mosaics. A new exhibit, Masterpieces of Egyptian Sculpture from the Pyramid Age, compares how artists depict humans in different ways. Which ones look like real people and which look more like masks?
Not all the collections are paintings and sculptures. Other exhibits that interest children of different ages include Textiles and Fashions, where you’ll see clothing worn in various time periods. The Jewelry collection features a treasury of fabulous gems and adornments (be sure to look for the gem-studded starfish).
You may be surprised how visiting an art museum with a child can change the way you see and appreciate art yourself.
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