Art Museums: TIPS for Taking the Kids
Art Museums: How to get the Kids Interested so you can Enjoy it, Too!
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Art Museum Goals:
When you want to see an artist’s exhibit and take the kids with you what are you hoping for?
*Hoping to enjoy the work yourself?
*Hoping to expose the kids to art?
*Hoping you’ll get brownie points for exposing the kids to culture?
*How about yes to all of the above??
How to Get Kids Interested in Art
1) Tell the story behind the piece.
Most art is based on religion or mythology. Go to the museum’s website and look for the famous pieces. Then, research the piece and the artist. (Or buy my Ebooks – I’ve already done it for you!) When you are at the museum, looking at the each piece, tell the story. Kids LOVE this!
This worked so well with my own kids! The very first international trip we took with them included a visit to the Galleria Borghese in Rome. I had never been so I looked at the website to get a few ideas on the major works. I chose the top 10 that I wanted to see and began the research. I studied the artist and the story behind each sculpture. When we were in the museum the kids were quietly standing by my side as I told the story behind the art. Once I had told them all about the art I was prepared to see they kept tugging at me, “Mommy, what about this one? Mommy, tell me the story of this one!” and I knew I had the right idea! They were hooked on art every since.
Follow in our footsteps!
Use these travel guide books to tell your kids the stories while you enjoy the art!
2) Analyze the art.
Now, don’t panic – analyze is just a grown up word for ‘look at’ and ‘talk about’. Ask questions like:
Why did he use such dark paint? Would you choose another color for her dress? Which one do you like best?
We had loads of fun discussing this piece of art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Yes, it is a leg. And an anchor. On a wall.
Thank you, The Art of Education for this wonderful poster to illustrate ‘bigger’ words for discussing the art.
3) Discuss parody.
Kids LOVE this! Introduce them to the concept of parody and then show them the most famous works of art in the world as you visit museums. They are a part of our culture.
The real deal – Girl with the Pearl Earring (Read here for the scoop on the painting and the subject. Also, photo from Slate.)
A parody from buttons.
Parody with Balloons!
If your kiddos are old enough for deeper discussion, talk about the different words we use for parody – like spoof or take off. This can be a tough thing to explain to kids who don’t understand how someone can ‘steal’ an idea and use it.
Some parodies go in a different direction than the reproductions above. I love these on Mona Lisa.
The original Mona Lisa.
Salvador Dali Mona! Love this opportunity to combine discussions – Mona and Salvador Dali!
4) Play with your food!
Create your own parody out of food! I love these clever ideas.
The original – The Scream, by Edvard Munch.
Sushi scream by Tama-chan
5) Think about combining what you see.
I love this book by Bob Raczka. He found art that when looked at side by side tells a story. They seem to ‘go together’ What a clever and wonderful idea!
The author combines 2 paintings to make a story of some sort. Read this book before you go to introduce the idea. Then, turn the kiddos lose when you get to the museum! Here is a page from the book:
How many combinations can you make on your art museum visit?
6) Teach tolerance.
What does it mean to be tolerant? Simply that everyone has a different idea of what is beautiful. That is why there are some styles of art that make people wonder…is that really art at all?
Like this unusual one by Picasso – Weeping Woman
And this blob we saw at the MET in New York – is that art? What is the difference between art and blobs on the floor?
Art is a way to teach tolerance – and heaven knows, we can use more of that in the world. Show the kids that every work of art is beautiful…to someone. Even if that someone isn’t you – it can be enjoyed and appreciated on some level. Even if it is only to say, “Yes, I saw that!”. Collect famous pieces of art like some people collect stamps in passports or baseball cards.
Sometimes seeing multiple pieces from the same artist can be very interesting. Once, after seeing La Pieta by Michelangelo in the Vatican,
we saw another Pieta in Milan called Rondanini. They couldn’t be more different. Only after seeing one could I fully appreciate the other.
7) Art for Non Artists.
This is one of my favorite books and it is perfect for teaching tolerance. It is an oldie (published in the late 70s), but a goodie and available on amazon. In this book ‘art’ is really a form of expression.
The Big Orange Splot by D. Pinkus
The houses on the street are all the same, neat and tidy, until one day a bird drops orange paint on the roof of Mr. Plumbean. Everyone is aghast at the blot on their neat and tidy street so Mr. Plumbean buys paint to fix it, but the next morning when everyone wakes up they find….
He has painted his roof, but not back to the neat and tidy original way. The neighbors all meet and give one person the task of setting Mr. Plumbean straight, but after the ‘talk’ that neighbor’s house is now painted differently, too!
One by one the neighbors meet with Mr. Plumbean and then paint their house to reflect their dreams until the entire street has unusual homes on it. The people say,
Perhaps not great for home values – LOL – but a wonderful way to discuss that art is in the eye of the beholder. We should be accepting and tolerant of individual choices! What do your dreams look like? Great opportunity for discussion.
7) Teach idioms with art.
I love these idioms:
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Art is the perfect explanation for this idiom. Some people love one art style over another, one artist over another and those differences are exactly what makes the world go ’round.
A picture is worth a thousand words.
Sometimes you can’t begin to describe something but a picture makes it all clear.
Do I have to paint you a picture?
Not a nice way of saying to someone, “How clear do I have to make it for you?”
Paint the town
This means to celebrate!
8) Create a little art together.
Use whatever materials you have to let the kids create art – based on what they have seen, what they will see, what they come up with in their mind. Display it proudly on their walls or on the fridge. Encourage expression!
Need help with the planning? Don’t see your art museum as an ebook title? Give me a shout!
Happy artistic and tolerant travels!
Natalie, The Educational Tourist