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.


Sue Marrazzo Fine Art said...

What a GREAT Post!

annette said...

Yes, Alisa,really well done. Thoughtful and informative with new ideas.

corinne said...

Just wanted to be sure you know about this one too: http://www.amazon.com/Micawber-John-Lithgow/dp/0689833415/ref=asap_B001ILMA0S_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1416316878&sr=1-7
It is delightful!!

patty a. said...

I had no idea there were that many art books for kids! How wonderful! Thank you for sharing your techniques for introducing a child to a museum setting. I think you could be well on your way to writing your own book about children and art!

I remember a story someone told me about having a small child in the local art museum. They have on permanent display a Donald Judd sculpture which is a square metal tube lined with green plexiglass that sits on the floor. It must be at least 2 1/2' x 2 1/2' x 8'. Well, someone wasn't watching their little one and the security people found the child crawling thru the piece! Oops!

Sacred Gypsy said...

I want to read those books! Lucy is one lucky little girl Alisa, more of us would have continued "coloring outside of the lines" with your creative parenting....

Anonymous said...

Greetings from Finland and I´m the kind of mom who has taken to her kids to art exhibitions and art galleries and museums and nowadays when twins are 9 and youngest is soon 6 we discuss a lot about art and what we see around us and conceptions what is pretty and can ugly be pretty. We do a lot urban exploring, take photos and do graveyard walks and go to see public art. It´s all about how you can make art interesting and how interactive it can be. They even tell their own opinions about art and what they see and how they interpet the art.

Keep your eyes open and see beauty around you.

frosty greetings, siperoinen

Timelesslady said...

Terrific photos of viewing art...they are art themselves. Blessings.

Jill said...

I love taking my kids to art museums, and I love asking them questions about what they see--technique, etc. My favorite though are their interpretations of the paintings. My 3 year old saw an Edgar Degas painting and said, "Mommy, see how there is a little yellow on the leg of the ballerina? I think she's having an accident!" So funny. I love seeing art through their eyes.

I'm Sara. said...

So we had to leave our terrific art museum (Crystal Bridges in Northwest Arkansas….seriously fantastic) last week because of a HUGE meltdown from my two-year old. I was so disappointed…mostly in myself for expecting her to be able to handle it! Your article has given me hope to start small and try again. :)

Brig said...

Thank you so much for putting this post together! Especially the books!!! I have big dreams of taking my 3 year old to galleries and sharing art pieces with her (which I do in small ways already) ... And doing painting with her like you do. I do paint with her but on the floor of the kitchen or outside which is absolutely fine but I have to pull everything out of a corner of my unworkable studio to do it. SO, I look forward to sharing my art studio with her soon. I have some of your posts on my Pinterest "dream board" as a little incentive to get my studio sorted ... It's been a work in progress for the last 3 years since she was born. It would've helped to have it up and running BEFORE she was born rather than being built in the 6-8 weeks following her birth!!! I am very grateful to have such a wonderful space (in my back yard) in the first place so I mustn't complain ... I've just got to try and get another member of the family out of there so I have my space back!!! ANYHOW, I really appreciate this post. I thought you might like to see the Blog posts below. I have about 8 or 9 three and four year old birthdays over the next few months seeing as I'm in a Mothers Group where they're all born at the same time so I've made up a whole lot of the same gift for all of them which includes The Dot book, a set of watercolours, 3 x paint brushes and A5 watercolour pads. You'll get the gist of it if you read the post below. She's got some GREAT ideas for gifts but seeing as I'm an artist, I just loved the idea of introducing children to the world of drawing/painting in no matter what form. I LOVE the fact that you're introducing Lucy to it all so early. Thank you again You are VERY inspiring, in oh so many ways, including the way you've slowly tapped away at becoming a full time artist over the years and not denying that to people.

Jo Murray said...

Lucy is blessed,

Marci said...

This was a fantastic post! I live in NYC with my five kids and am desperately want to take them to see all the cool galleries and museums nearby but have had some pretty traumatic experiences in the few times we've got to really big art museums. Hopefully we can implement some of these ideas and start going out to soak in the beauty that surrounds us.

Heather S said...

Great selection of books. When Pigasso met Mootisse was one of my daughters favorites. I didn't know there were so many others as well.

tb378003 said...

We are huge fans of "counting with Wayne Thiebaud" as well. I mean everyone loves to look at beautiful food right?!

Rachel said...

Where did you get your boots? They're cute!


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