Guggenheim Tips: Visit with the KIDS
How to take the Kids to the Guggenheim Museum
There are lots of reasons to visit the Guggenheim Museum in New York City. It is such an interesting experience you should definitely take the kids!
The Guggenheim is full of modern art. A lot of people are put off by modern art because it isn’t ‘pretty’ and ‘it doesn’t make sense’. That is true a lot of the time, but not always because the term ‘modern’ refers to the time it was created not a style. So, something modern can be ‘weird’ or ‘beautiful’. More importantly, beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.
You might just love a piece of art. You might think it is the craziest thing you have ever seen. You might stand before a very large piece of plain white paper, as I did, and wonder why it is art and not just plain paper.
That is the true beauty of all art. It makes you think. There is no wrong way to think to feel about art. If you love it – great! If you hate it – great! If you think it is the dumbest/wildest/craziest/most wonderful thing you’ve ever seen – great!
I love the conversations we have about art. Sometimes the most fun conversations come when we are looking at the strangest art pieces.
Guggenheim Tips: Love the architecture.
The building, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in itself is interesting.
Some say it looks like a cake and it reminded me of a coiled spring.
The building’s shape is actually a ziggurat. (New word for those of you who play Scrabble!) A ziggurat is a type of pyramid.
The entire building is basically one big ramp with a few enclaves set off to the side here and again. Art is displayed all along the ramp as well as in the few small rooms.
It is easy to wander around freely to enjoy the space. Stand at the very bottom and look up – that view is quite famous.
Guggenheim Tips: Organize your visit.
If seeing art in chronological order is important to you, take the elevator to the top and walk down.
I chose to meander around from the bottom and walk up the ramp. I zipped past things that didn’t catch my eye which gave me time to stop and soak in the beauty of what I did love.
Never feel like you have to see every piece of art in any museum. There is always way too much to take in during a single visit anyway. Admire what you like and skip the rest.
Part of the ongoing exhibitions includes some of my favorite artists like Kandinsky.
I love art like Kandinsky though I realize others might not share my love of the…unusual, but I love the colors. Kids are often drawn to this type of art, too, and I think it gives them the feeling that what they create can be art, too.
I chose a Kandinsky print for my daughter’s nursery and I just loved it. Years later she told me how she thought it was a scary piece of artwork. See how art can be interpreted differently? That art came down immediately out of her room and now lives in my closet hung on the wall near the shirts. Yes – in the closet. You can hang art anywhere!
Never feel like you need to see everything in a museum. That sets everyone up to feel overwhelmed and exhausted. Instead, plan on seeing just a few things. See the most famous, or just plan on seeing just five things that catch your attention.
Guggenheim Tips: The Expected
In the Guggenheim’s permanent collection are a few examples from Picasso.
I enjoyed seeing the painting from his blue period called “Woman Ironing”. Considering how very, very tired the woman looks, I would like to officially nickname the painting, “Mom”.
It is fun to ask the kids what they would name a painting. Part of the fun of an art museum is interpretation and appreciating how everyone interprets things differently.
Would your child, who is clearly immune to the weariness he/she causes to parents, call this painting, “Mom”? What would your child call it? Ask them and find out!
Read a little about Picasso himself before you go. Knowing a bit of background on a subject really, really helps kids learn and engage in an experience more!
Guggenheim Tips: Paint
Whether this is ‘your type of art’ or not you might as well enjoy the creations.
Since you are already here at the museum take a minute to examine the brush strokes. Up close some art is smooth and flat and other pieces have paint heavily globbed on in layers.
****Globbed on – My lay person’s description of thick paint (You heard it here first!)
This painting seems to have cross-hatched paint strokes. Doesn’t it make the grass seem to blow in the wind? I think that is a really clever use of paint!
The painting below has brush strokes which are quite horizontal and make me think of the waves in the water. I think that is pretty much what the artist had in mind, don’t you?
Read more about the usage of brush strokes for adults and the older kids…use the photos for the younger set to get them thinking. Way over the head of most if you intend to read the whole thing. If not, use the photos as a jumping off point for everyone else.
Guggenheim Tips: The Unexpected
I like to plan a museum visit with an extra 30 minutes – 1 hour if I can spare it for just seeing something new. Wander around to see what catches the eye of someone in our traveling party. You truly never know what you might see or what will capture the attention of someone!
For example I popped into a room titled “Modern Art from Africa” and stopped dead in my tracks when I saw this.
It appeared to be a sandcastle type city made of couscous. But…could it really be a HUGE pile of couscous about the size of a king sized bed?
Yes! All the couscous was cooked in the kitchen right at the museum. Then, the couscous was mixed with wallpaper paste and insecticide before being constructed by the artist.
Now there is an interesting recipe!
When you purchase a piece of art like this one, you really purchase the molds and directions. The first time you want to display the art, the artist creates it for you.
Obviously, it doesn’t last forever and will be taken down.
Later, if you want to display it again..you just follow the directions. (Imagine the Pinterest fail possibilities on this one. LOL!)
Guggenheim Tips: Appreciate the Art
When you think of art ‘appreciation’ do you think of perfectly coiffed society matrons with glasses perched high on their perfect noses? Do you imagine them looking down those perfect noses on others (maybe at you) as uncultured?
Ditch that idea RIGHT NOW.
What does the word appreciate even mean, anyway? In the case with art, it means: “clear perception of both ugly and beauty”.
BOTH ugly and beauty.
So..to appreciate art –
You can love it!
Love the colors and the design. Smile when you see it.
You can hate it!
Dislike the intensity or subject. Grimace in distaste when you look at it.
You can laugh at it!
Roll your eyes and wonder how this is even called art! The kids and I once saw the lower portion of a man’s leg sticking out of a wall during a visit to the Museum of Modern Art. We still chuckle at that one.
You can question it!
A lot of art is designed to make you question things. Some art is made of trash so you will examine recycling and the amount of trash you create. Some art is created to make you think and ponder war, love, religion – anything you can imagine.
It is really interesting to hear what the kids think when they know there is no wrong response!
Guggenheim Tips: Be moved by the art.
There is no wrong way to enjoy art.
It can make you smile, cry, or roll your eyes. It can make you think about large social issues like “man’s inhumanity to man” or make you wonder what the difference is between a large piece of white paper and the piece of ‘art’ that looks like a large piece of white paper.
(If anyone has the answer to this question, please enlighten us in the comment section below!)
Guggenheim Tips: Stop for a snack
The snack area of the Guggenheim museum is very kid friendly.
The menu is quite small but includes chocolate and a few drinks and really, what else do you need? You can eat veggies at home.
Those are edible flowers on top of that yummy chocolate snack!
For some reason, known only to Frank Lloyd Wright himself most likely, the bathrooms in this museum are just for one person at a time and are scattered throughout the museum.
There is no way to know if someone is actually in there without knocking on the door. Sometimes people answer when you knock and sometimes they don’t.
This has you standing there wondering if the door is just stiff and you didn’t push hard enough. Or is the restroom out of order? Or, perhaps there is someone actually in there.
So….when you have to go…..knock loudly and wait.
Guggenheim Tips: The nitty gritty
Choose the City Pass that best suits your needs based on how long you’ll be in NYC and what sorts of things you want to see/do.
I’ve always used the one with the top 6 attractions. Not only do you save money but even better you save time! Sometimes there is a MUCH shorter line for City Pass holders and that alone is worth the money!!
Click the photo below to order YOUR New York City Pass.
It can be mailed to your house before your trip or you can pick it up there. Either way, you’ll be glad you have it when you walk past the very long line at the sight you want to see. Skipping the line is even better if you travel with the kids – they never like waiting in lines!
If you are bringing the kids to New York City, you’ll love the travel guide to New York written just for kids! Click and download here.
Think, ponder, pound your fist, or giggle. Appreciating art comes in all forms.
Read more about taking kids to museums: Visit Art Museums with Kids
If you are headed to the big apple you’ll need a place to stay. Read my review of the Renaissance Hotel which is perfectly located in Times Square. You can’t get more centrally located than that!
Happy artistic travels!
Natalie, The Educational Tourist
This is in NYC — never heard of it before so very good to know! Also, you’re so right, if you go to a museum with the expectation that you’re going to see everything — you’re kind of doing it wrong.
My first encounter with Guggenheim Museum was through the movie: it is featured in one of the first scenes of Men in Black. I was intrigued by futuristic architecture. Visiting the museum in person was even better: the clever building design combined with modern art masterpieces is a great treat. Just like you, I started from the bottom. Who cares about the chronological order when there are so many masterpieces around. I was torn between puzzling Chagall and whimsical Kandinsky so much that skimmed over the rest of exhibition.
We visited Guggenheim back in 2012 within NY pass and, honestly, for me the most exciting was the building itself. As you said, its shape and some quirky things within make it absolutely unique. And art, art is everywhere anyways 🙂
Ziggurat. Taking that down. Lol. This looks cool, I’ve never been a fan of museums but I’m slowly starting to appreciate it. 🙂
Hahaha, the cous cous statue was my favorite! And the fact that the museum was design by Frank Lloyd Wright is also very interesting. Added to my bucket list!
I agree, it is such an amazing museum. I can’t wait you teach our daughter about art and take her to museums. She is a bit young right now, but this museum is definitely one of the first I’ll want to take her to
It’s so embarrassing, I live so close to the Guggenheim and haven’t been there for a few years. I really need to go back and take a look at some of these pieces!! And that dessert from the cafe looks amazing. When I was in London we had dessert at every museum cafe. It was the highlight of each trip. haha
OH! This looks like an interesting place to go to! I’ll have to go here one day
I have always wanted to visit the Guggenheim! I love your tip about how to see the museum from the top to the bottom, as I love walking through museums in chronological order!
I have been to NYC twice and never visited here. It looks like it would be worth a visit and I loved the cous cous art, never seen anything like that!!
I have never been here but as a 32 year old child – these tips were helpful. My attention span isn’t very long and museums tend to bore me after awhile. Thanks for your post.
Thanks for sharing, you captured my favorite artist and art piece in the museum! I am a big fan of Kadinsky as well 😛