Visiting Modern Art Museum with KIDS
Visiting Modern Art Museum with KIDS
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Does your dream vacation include soaking up some of the world’s most spectacular modern art? Do you daydream of seeing famous art at the world’s most famous museums like the Louvre and the Prado? Do you want to cross seeing famous works of art off your bucket list?
Do you worry about taking the kids to art museums? Will you be able to really enjoy those art masterpieces with the kids in tow? Do you worry that you’ll spend more time wrangling the kids than viewing the art?
So, did I!
But, I was WRONG about that and so are you! Not only is it possible to enjoy the art that makes your heart sing with the kids in tow but it is a GREAT parenting move to take the kids.
Visiting a Modern Art Museum with KIDS – Visual Literacy
Art appreciation is a valuable life skill for kids. Life skill, you ask? YES!! Art appreciation improves visual literacy. Visual literacy is the ability to use the ‘non-word’ images for information as well. Take the icons on your computer for example – without words, we can still gain a lot of information from those little pictures and symbols.
“As society becomes more digital, it’s not enough to just be able to read words; we have to be able to read images.”
Learning about art encourages kids to look closely and think about an image. They sharpen observation skills and attention to detail. This attention to detail also improves writing skills. For example, kids will learn to see more than just the obvious and how to use their language skills to elaborate.
Teachers, like Ms. Levett, in San Francisco tells how her kids have improved in writing in one short visual art discussion lesson!
“They’ll start the year with ‘I see a ball,’” she said. “After that it snowballs. It’s amazing.”
So, at the beginning of the year they’ll describe a picture by saying, “I see a ball.” but after visual art lessons (or time in an art museums discussing what they are seeing) they come up with descriptions like, “I played with a ball like the one in the photo.” and “He loves the ball that reminds him of the time Aunt Susie came to visit.” Give your kids this extra boost of practice using those important visual skills!
Visiting Modern Art Museum with KIDS – Improve Vocabulary
Traditional schools ‘teach’ vocabulary by giving the kids a list of words on Monday and testing them over the definitions on Friday. They dutifully learn these words and definitions and do well on the test, but then……those become useless (and by useless I mean the kids don’t have a use for them at the time) words.
Instead, teach words that the kids NEED and will have a USE for – right now and those words will stick!! Improve vocabulary by teaching words that have to do with your travel and art museum visits.
What sort of words would you use in discussing the art? How about colors? Not just red, but flame red, reddish orange and blood red. How about shapes? How about the style of art like realism and cubism?
Visiting Modern Art Museum with KIDS – Improve Reading
Strengthening your visual skills by looking at art and talking about art improves reading as well. The ability to look at art and see it with understanding improves your ability to visualize in general.
Did you know that good readers visualize? Edsource agrees – “If you can visualize what you are reading, you are a stronger reader rather than just reading word-to-word,”
Visualization strengthens reading comprehension because it helps a reader understand more and lets the reader have a better experience. Have you ever read a book and then seen the movie only to find that the characters are all wrong? They don’t look ‘right’? What you have done is visualization. While you were reading you were imagining the characters. You had an entire scene in your head. This is what you can help the kids with! Strong readers do well in life at ….everything!!
“Visualizing strengthens reading comprehension skills as students gain a more thorough understanding of the text they are reading by consciously using the words to create mental images. As students gain more deliberate practice with this skill, the act of visualizing text becomes automatic. Students who visualize as they read not only have a richer reading experience but can recall what they have read for longer periods of time. (Harvey & Goudvis 2000)”
Visiting Modern Art Museum with KIDS – Is it really art?
Sometimes beauty….and art is in the eye of the beholder.
Look at this interesting piece of art by artist Ivan Puig. Photo from My Modern Met.
What would you call this piece of art? Car submerged in milk? Car sinking into the floor? Man vs Lactose Intolerance? The artist calls it Hasta Las Narices, which means “You Make Your Nose”. Hmm….. this would bring an interesting conversation about the name alone.
Ask your kids – and yourself, these questions:
What does ‘You Make Your Nose” have to do with a car in milk?
Can you even ‘make your nose’?
How did the artist do this? Where is the rest of the car?
Spanish speakers will recognize that the phrase “Hasta Las Narices” has other meanings like:
I’m fed up.
I’m so sick.
I’ve had a bellyful.
Knowing these meanings….does it help you understand the art title? Do you feel like you have a better idea of what the artist wanted you to get from the title?
It is ok if you don’t know the answers to any of those questions. That is part of the fun! There is no wrong to enjoying and thinking about art. Everyone can have their own opinion.
Visiting Modern Art Museum with KIDS – Sometimes modern art is hard to understand.
We had great fun discussing these silver blobs during our visit to the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. What are they? What makes them art instead of just blobs on the floor?
Have you ever wondered what makes some weird stuff ‘art’?
Like if I put weird metal blobs on the floor they would be weird metal blobs, but these weird metal blobs are art.
Art is…by Bob Raczka In his delightful form he explains what makes art….art and uses everything from the oldest cave drawings to the newest art created today. LOVE this book. Written for kids aged 5 – 18 and good for anyone to get their art ‘thinking’ started. Length: 32 pages.
Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg Oh, how I just love this book. I have a copy on my bookshelf right now. Who hasn’t had life turn out a little bit differently than planned? No matter what happens in life it can be turned into something just wonderful. The author playfully creates from the ‘oops’ moments lovely and fun pictures. Written for kids aged 3-8 years but a great conversation starter for kids much older – as old as mid-teens. Length: 28 pages. Lexile Measure: 40L.
Visiting Modern Art Museum with KIDS – You need a plan.
This interesting art (photo from It’s Nice That) from Yun-Woo Choi really illustrates the idea that to have things turn out the best – you need a plan.
These are made entirely of rolled up magazine pages – a work by Yun-Woo Choi.
Closer… I love the colors! What a great recycling project. 😉
This is a great time to talk about how far ahead the artist had to plan. He had to start in a big enough space and use a glue strong enough to carry the weight of so much paper. Talk about planning in your own life.
Do you think the artist knew what the final piece would look like or did it evolve along the way? How was this piece transported to the museum or gallery? Was it made right there?
The artist, Yun-Woo Choi, calls this particular piece ‘Untitled’. What would you call it?
Use this cool piece of art as a starting place to discuss other healthy life habits.
Planning ahead and starting with the end in mind are two of the habits of successful people. Read more in this book just for teens.
Can’t imagine your kids willingly reading such a book? Me neither! LOL! So, we read one chapter a day on our road trip and discussed. They were a captive audience in the back seat and I took advantage of it! LOL!
Visiting Modern Art Museum with KIDS – Symbolism
How do you explain art to kids when you have a hard time ‘getting it’ yourself?
Consider this art exhibit by Nino Sarabutra that includes more than 100,000 porcelain skulls over the floor….what is your first impression?
Some people were creeped out by this exhibit. Is it depressing or sad? Some people think so, but the artist doesn’t. The artist says that walking on the skulls (yes, you can walk on them) does symbolize that each step brings you closer to death, but instead of finding that sad or depressing the artist, Nino Sarabutra, wants you to think…
“I want people to ask themselves how they live, what they are doing— if today was your last on earth, what will you leave behind?”
This is an invitation to talk about the legacy we leave behind us. Are we being the good in the world? Are we helping others? Are we making the most of our lives? How will we be remembered? How can we improve ourselves?
Ask the kids to write their own eulogy. Plan a life that people will remember fondly after you go.
Visiting Modern Art Museum with KIDS – Just talk about it…
Is this how you feel when you see modern art? Just admit it! Love this fun cartoon from Paper Cards.
Is this funny? That’s OK – talk about it! There is no right or wrong when it comes to art – just enjoy it! I love the Easter Island statue water cooler. LOL!
What about this fun toilet seat art! Is this creepy? Does it make you roll your eyes? What do your kids think? Do they want one in the guest bathroom? I’m not sure where this fun photo came from originally, but I found it on Pinterest.
As if to prove that art can be created with a WIDE variety of mediums, Felix Gonzales – Torres has created this Untitled piece of Is this art out of candy. AND to prove that art is sometimes interactional you can even take a piece!!
Visiting Modern Art Museum with KIDS – Create connections in your brain
When I was growing up (in the dark ages 😉 scientists thought that the brain really stopped changing and growing when we were very young and that a mental decline in old age was one of those things you could count on like death and taxes. Thankfully, science marches on!! Now scientists believe that
“the brain is perfectly capable of changing, healing and “rewiring” itself to an unexpected degree.”
As a parent, I feel that my number one job is to ‘grow brains’ in my kiddos. The better their educational foundation from experiences and traditional education the better their life will be. It might sound like an overstatement but I don’t think so. Even adults can improve their brain function says Barbara Strauch in The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain says,
“Ever since a Canadian researcher took his adult lab rats home to run around in his house and later found that those rats were considerably smarter than those rats left behind in their boring cages, neuroscience has systematically upended the idea that the adult brain cannot change its structure or improve how it works…”
Read the whole book, The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain, for more fascinating information on how YOU can improve your brain and the brains of your kiddos!
For example…. look at this funny art by Anne-Catherine Becker. Again…we use a different medium this time. The kids will LOVE this crazy art! She takes months creating the scene and then when she is ready to photograph…she heads to the fish market for her models.
The artist, Anne-Catherine Becker-Echivard, calls her choice of a medium “ the perfect recycling of art. Nothing is left over” because afterward she cooks and eats the fish!
Does the above piece of art, with fish working to wrap chocolate fish on an assembly line, remind you of the I Love Lucy episode called Job Switching? This photo from IMDB just cracks me up.
And that connection – between the fish art and the I Love Lucy scene from years ago is exactly the type of connection that you want to make in young brains! It increases the numbers of ‘roads’ the brain has leading from one thing to another and helps make life, art, and literature, meaningful.
Visiting Modern Art Museum with KIDS – Read before you go.
Learning even a little before you go can help the whole travel party understand and appreciate the experience more! Give your littles some background information before you go.
The book, The A-Z Modern Artists by Andy Tuoh is a great place to start. I love how the portraits on the front give you such a simple way to appreciate the differences between artists at a glance.
Unlikely Pairs by Bob Raczka This book is so much fun! Raczka has searched the world of art to find TWO pieces of art that ‘go together’ in some way. Then imagine how much fun you’ll have when you see one in person. We saw a piece in this book in an outdoor sculpture garden in New Orleans.
No One Saw by Bob Raczka LOVE this book so much! The author uses a simple text with rhymes to talk about the different way to view something. Artists often have a completely different way of viewing something which they share with the audience. Everyone sees art in a completely different way and that is not just OK – it is fantastic! Written for kids just 5-6 years of age, but I love this book for kids as old as 13. Length: 32 pages.
Visiting Modern Art Museum with KIDS – Interact with Art
Unfortunately, you don’t always find art you can easily interact with like the skulls you walk on above or the candy you can eat.
What if you don’t find one like this white room…everyone here gets to leave a sticker? This art exhibit by artist, Yayoi Kusama, started as a white room and for two weeks, kids – thousands of kids were given stickers and allowed to contribute to the art. How FUN!!!
At the beginning of the exhibit…
At the end of the exhibit…
What if get to the museum and all you see is…..art? Nothing that is hands on? How do you handle that?
Give them something to look for!
Ask your kids to find all the things that are a certain color or start with the same letter as their name.
Have kids give suggestions for names of art pieces BEFORE looking at what the artist named it.
Ask for their favorite and least favorite in every room.
Discuss which one you might like to have at your own house. Where would you put it?
Give each kiddo a blank journal.
I love these fun journals! For some reason, kids love journals that have a way to close them.
Give them some colored stickers like these:
Enjoy the art.
We danced in front of these dancing ladies.
If you are visiting any of these art museums I’ve got you covered! These books are great travel guides for kids and mine used them happily in these museums!
Visiting Modern Art Museum with KIDS – Relax and enjoy!
Art doesn’t have to be ‘understood’..it is ok to laugh! Be surprised! Feel confused! Feel uncertain! Share the feelings and your thoughts with each other. When it comes to art – you can’t be wrong. Enjoy being together and hearing what the kids have to say!
One of our favorite art pieces is this one we saw at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Hmmm…… What does this piece of art make you think? No matter how many times I look at it, I always think of something new and different. No doubt a really different type of art!
Tips for Visiting Art Museums with KIDS – Follow in our footsteps!
Happy Artistic travels!