Free Museum Day Means Kids See Art

Sunday was Free Museum Day in my suburban sanctuary, and we are lucky that we have 4 pretty great museums here, including an art museum.

Now before you go rolling your eyes, wondering what an art museum in the suburbs could possibly look like, check it out:

elmhurst art museum

Elmhurst Art Museum. Um, with a wing designed by Mies Van Der Rohe. Maybe not designed specifically for the museum, but it was transported from its original location as the former Robert H. McCormick residence. Look how they had that part decked out yesterday:

elmhurst art museum mies van der rohe

That is luscious. But you didn’t click here to see fabulous mid century interior design. Here are photos of kids looking at art.

 

girl looking at art

 

kids looking at art

 

girl looking at painting

 

Even as an art-maker I have trouble talking with my kids about art sometimes, especially if it’s super conceptual and obscure. So what I have found is that the simplest questions result in the best discussions.

For example:

What do you see here?

Do these remind you of anything?

Do you think you could make that? How would you do it? How would you make this differently?

 

Even ask silly questions. Humor always draws kids in:

Do you think this artist wanted to do a painting of Post-it Notes?

I’ll bet this artist eats a whole bunch of candy right before they start to sculpt so they can work really fast.

I think Spongebob made this.

 ****

If your child spontaneously says or asks something about a piece, probe that question further. Even if you know nothing about art, there’s a person behind this artwork. They have human feelings, thoughts and emotions that influence how and why they make artwork. Sometimes it can be as simple as painting a beautiful landscape that will evoke nostalgic thoughts of summer vacations on the Cape. Sometimes they are making art to protest how sloths are mercilessly made fun of, and they have taken that on as a mission to raise awareness through their art.

In any event, even if you don’t understand or care for a piece of artwork, there are still questions to be asked and thoughts to be thought about it, even on a simple level. Usually the basic questions get you (and the kids) thinking a little deeper about the work. Boom. This is critical thinking. This is good.

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  1. says

    I, too, love your list of questions to get the discussions started. Thank you for that.

    Each summer we go to a few museums while on vacation, and my oldest daughter dreads the one with “old people” (Renoir, Cassatt, Degas, etc.). I will come up with questions that hopefully will make that afternoon more fun for all of us!

  2. says

    I HATED the old people art as a kid. That gives me an idea for another post. I wonder if once she sees the old people enough times she’ll start to like them just based on familiarity.

  3. says

    I love your questions. I took my kids to the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art) and they just didn’t get or like the art. I wish I had your list of questions then!

  4. vanita says

    you know, if it weren’t for art, seeing it and creating it, i don’t think any of us would have one lick of an imagination. learning to appreciate art – no matter what type of art – and the work and creativeness that goes into it is one of the best lessons we can teach our kids.

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