Visiting Modern Art Museum with KIDS
Visiting Modern Art Museum with KIDS
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.
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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.
Professor of Integrated Arts at Fresno State University, Kim Morin reminds us,
“As society becomes more digital, it’s not enough to just be able to read words; we have to be able to read images.”
How does visual literacy help my child?
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 words and definition become useless – and by useless I mean the kids don’t have a use for them at the time.
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.
But I’m not a teacher!
If you are a parent, you are a teacher.
Who taught them to use the potty, say please, sleep in the bed, put on pants, work the buttons on their shirt? YOU did. You taught them those things.
If you are a parent, you are a teacher! Say it with me. I can teach my kid!
Who taught your child to walk? Sit at the table? Work the TV remote? Pour their own cereal? Open a door? YOU did.
OK, how do I teach about art?
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 skills as well. The ability to look at art and see it with understanding improves your ability to visualize in general.
Strong reading skills are the single most important skill your child can have. Why? Because if you can read…you can learn about anything else your heart desires.
Did you know that good readers visualize while they read?
Of course you do! That is why when the movie comes out you think…”That character doesn’t look right.” because you already had an idea of that character and what they would look like in your head.
But, you might not have known what an important reading skill that is. Visualizing skills are really a BIG deal and you can help your child read better this way!
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!!
Teacher Vision agrees that strong visualization skills = strong reading skills.
“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.
How is that? These two books are the perfect way to explain!
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?
Surely they symbolize….something. Right?
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. (Wow. I know you didn’t see THAT coming, right?)
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.
There is no wrong when you appreciate art. Everyone’s opinion and thoughts and ideas are correct.
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!
Is this creepy or cool?
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.
Is this sweet?
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!!
Talk about getting the kids to enjoy art! This would surely be a hit!
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!
CLICK HERE to learn how reading before you go makes a BIG difference for traveling kids.
For example…. look at this funny art by Anne-Catherine Becker. Again…we use a different medium this time.
I’m pretty sure you didn’t learn about using dead fish as an art medium when you were in art class in high school!
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.
The good news is….you can’t be wrong! So talk about it – love/hate/giggle/boring – it is all good!
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.
Reading practice add ups! Don’t worry about sitting down to a long reading session – even a few moments here and there adds up!
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!
CLICK HERE Adventures in the Prado
CLICK HERE Adventures in the Galleria Borghese
CLICK HERE Adventures in the Louvre
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!
CLICK HERE Guggenheim Visit in New York City
CLICK HERE St. Peter’s at Vatican City
CLICK HERE Blue Dog in New Orleans
CLICK HERE Get more tips visiting art museums with the kids.
CLICK HERE Tips for Museums visits with the KIDS
Happy Artistic travels!
Natalie, The Educational Tourist
I think it wouldn’t be hard to convince kids to visit a museum. Most are inherently curious and they can get a lot of stimulation from museums. This is especially true with modern art museums since there are plenty to get them to think and be in awe!
I am glad you shared this with us. It is something we worry about when taking our son to places, but you are totally right. It is okay that they don’t always understand it! – or us for that matter!
Sometimes not officially understanding something spurs the best conversations!!
So I have never much been a museum person but after reading this post I feel like I have a far better understanding of what to look for and what to discuss. This guide isn’t just for parents taking kids to museums but for anyone who doesn’t really ‘get’ museums, like me. ‘Man vs. Lactose intolerance,’ hilarious!!!
How sweet! I hoped that people would find it that way! I love researching stuff for kids. I always think of it as Cliff Notes for the rest of us. 😉 Thanks for stopping by!
I love modern art, it’s so interesting to look at. I can imagine kids would love it, as the pieces can be really fun! Your tips on stickers for different art is a great way to get them engaged!
Thanks, Gemma! I appreciate you stopping by.
Our daughter is still a bit too young for museums, but I will definitely be exposing her to art of all types. I think it’s great to show children the many different works of art and concepts of art and to have those open conversations about it. Kids are so naturally curious that this type of experience inspires and ignites passion in children.
It sure does! Art is really a great way to expand a child’s mind and you get to enjoy the art, too!
Interesting! I love visiting museums and soaking myself in art. That said, the very thought of taking kids to art museums sounds odd to me! Atleast it sounded. Now, after reading your post, its probably not bad. But taking the kids to classical art museums where you check out the masterpieces of renaissance artists, I guess, kids would get bored. Modern art is still a conversation piece even for a toddler. Indeed that Man vs Lactose Intolerance is a weird piece!
Art is a GREAT idea for kids, especially the classical art museums. It opens their minds and lets them explore and learn. Art is great for everyone!
I enjoyed reading your article. I love going to museums and reading art books. It makes me happy and calm. It is like reading poems and other forms of literatures too. It feels liberating that when you see or read art, you can never be wrong or right.
My older nephew is imaginative. I would like to bring him to the museums that you have listed. It will help to visualize a lot of things. I think when someone is exposed to different forms of art, he/she is more understanding and empathetic.
He would have so much fun on a museum adventure with his Aunt Iza!! I hope you guys get to go. You’ll enjoy his take on things. 🙂
I have always loved visiting museum and the trip to Louvre happens to be my favorite. I know its tough to convince kids but these places where you can ask too many questions and be surprised is always a great place to learn. Thanks for making it interesting and pushing on the idea that we must visit modern art museums with kids.
The Louvre is an amazing museum. I enjoy museums even more with the kids than I did before because they always have an interesting point of view I would not have considered. Conversations there are good for the whole family. It gives the chance for kids to be heard!