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My oldest daughter loves art. We are frequent visitors at the nearby Berkeley Art Museum and Oakland Museum of California, and have explored local art museums on our travels, since she was a baby. We also do a lot of art and learning about artists at home.
How to Visit an Art Gallery with Kids
It may seem daunting to visit an art gallery with kids, but with a little pre-planning it can be a great experience!
Give them a Basis for Art Appreciation
Kids will appreciate art more, and behave more appropriately at a gallery, if they have a basis for what they’re seeing. Art appreciation is important to our family, so we started early.
We have several lithographs and paintings in our home, which I started talking about to my kids when they were babies. (Doing so is a great opportunity for language learning and teaching colors). I also read them the Mini Masters books, which are board books of famous artists’ works paired with poetic descriptions.
As my kids got older we learned more about different artists and various styles of art, using these books.
Another fun, classic book about a kid visiting an art museum is Olivia.
The more background your kids have, the less likely they are to be bored and act out. On that note, set clear expectations beforehand, like no running or touching exhibits (unless it’s specifically allowed- Santa Cruz, CA has a great hands on art museum). If they can’t handle these rules, leave. Better to cut your visit short than be stuck with the bill for a sculpture your kid knocked over!
What to do When You’re There
First of all, set everyone up for success. Make sure everyone is rested, fed (you likely won’t be able to snack in the gallery), dressed for the weather and wearing comfortable shoes (I like these for myself, and these for my kids).
Engage your kids! Compare what you see to what you’ve learned. For kids who can write, bring a clipboard and this printable so your child can write notes on their opinions. (For pre-writers, you can do this for them). You can even fill one out yourself! Then discuss them when you stop for lunch or at dinner that night.
Don’t stay too long- make your first visit short and gauge your child’s interest.
How To Do Art at Home
There are really no rules for this. Most kids do it anyway, and there are hundreds of art projects on Pinterest you can browse. I like to have set times for messy art projects so that I can prepare an area in advance with a drop cloth for easy clean up.
For our art curriculum, we like to create in the style of a particular artist. We also have a very large, very plain stucco wall surrounding our backyard. After a muralist I’d hired fell through, I realized I had my very own muralists at home. And they work for free! So we started using the wall for our art studies.
Our first project was this work in the style of Mondrian. We then moved on Banksy’s Rainbow Rain. But, like Olivia, our absolute favorite artist to explore is Jackson Pollock.
I’ve always loved Pollock, but since I don’t have a spare $140 million lying around, I have to have my kids make my process art. We’ve designated the largest wall in our yard as “where we Pollock.” Basically I just put out trays of paint and some brushes and let them have at it (or, let’s be honest, have at it myself). The activity is such a hit that we now have Process Art Play Dates, where friends get in on the action.
If you don’t have a giant wall, you can do this on other large surfaces, like an unfolded box, or a roll of butcher paper. My favorite surface, however, is a cheap, clear shower curtain. Hang it between two trees and have at it!
What’s your favorite art project? I’d love to hear it in the comments!
P.S. Want that art opinion printable at a discount?
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