Tuesday, November 18, 2014

introducing a toddler to galleries and museums

Over the last couple of years I have shared a lot of information and inspiration about making art with a kid and now our family is entering into a new phase- beginning to learn and view art at galleries and museums and today I am sharing a few tips that I have discovered.

Before diving in, I gotta just be honest and tell you that visiting a gallery with a toddler is WAAAYYY more scary and intimidating to me than letting Lucy get messy with paint. Toddlers can be grabby, unpredictable and have a short attention span (at least mine does) and once in a while there are those public behaviors or outbursts that make any outing "interesting". All these factors make walking into a gallery or museum with a 3 year old feel challenging. But viewing art, visiting galleries, learning about artists and their techniques, discussing art history and engaging with creative communities is a huge part of my life and something that I want to share with Lucy. While I don't expect her to share my passion, I do want to introduce her to the beauty, imagination and  the excitement that goes along with viewing art.Today I've put together a few tips and tricks with the hopes to inspire those of you that are parents to try introducing your kids to museums, galleries and live art!

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Obviously creativity is a really big part of our lives- all three of us make art and work on creative projects every single day but another layer to creativity is learning about other artists. A great way to start looking at art (before heading into a museum) is to read books about art and artists (above are a few of our favorites). Since Lucy was born we have been reading art themed books to her. Her middle name is Matisse so we have a lot of books on her namesake but she loves looking at my old Art History text books and flipping through pages of art or craft magazines. It seems once she hit 2 years old she really began to understand the correlation between all those artists making art and her own creative process. 

Heading into a fancy gallery with a toddler is a pretty daunting thought so we started the process with public art- statues, murals, installations and anything creative outside. Viewing public art is a really accessible way for anyone of any age to walk up to art and begin creative conversations.

So maybe a gallery or museum with lots of breakable objects and expensive art is not the place for your kid (yet). Try working up to the experience by visiting more accessible spaces- coffee shops, restaurants, bookstores, boutiques and art supply stores often have small exhibits on their walls. Outdoor art festivals and even farmers markets can also be a great way to begin looking at art and handmade things. 

In my experience anything new that we are going to do goes way smoother when we spend time talking and preparing for it. Lucy loves to talk, imagine and explore just about anything so "hyping" a trip to a gallery by discussing the things we will see, how we will "look with our eyes not our hands" and asking her what she wants to look at- has made art outings easier for everyone.

Someday we will take Lucy to a fancy gallery opening but not any time soon! For now we have found that heading to a gallery or museum works best for us during non peak hours- typically the mornings. This way we can take our time, focus and have space to explore without the pressure of navigating crowds 

One of my favorite parts of introducing art to Lucy is the conversations that we have during and after. I like to ask her open ended questions like- What do you see? What color is that? What do you think is going on? How does this painting making you feel? These are actually all questions that I ask myself when I am looking at art so it is really fun and inspiring to talk (with a 3 year old) about the same things I am thinking about!

Going to a gallery or museum provides inspiration like nothing else can and I want to share with Lucy how these little outings can be the beginning of a new idea or project. A great way to do this is to pick something you saw and structure a project around it- playing with watercolors, talking about shapes and abstraction, creating a story with a picture, cutting up paper and collaging are all examples of inspiration we have brought back from our art outings.


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