While Godmama Heidi was here, we visited the Legion of Honor Fine Arts Museum in San Francisco. It is just the sort of adventure she and I used to have before I became a mom. So nice to glide back into that world for a little while...
I've taken Eli to art museums before, but not as a family and not since he's been old enough to really talk about the art with me. My goal right now is simply for him to enjoy visiting and begin to feel comfortable in such places. I didn't grow up going to art museums, so I felt tip-toey in them at first. Stuffy and snobby, I always assumed. But after studying Art Education, I now feel the opposite -- reverent and quiet, but also a pleasant blend of restfulness and curiosity that is downright relaxing. At the same time, a visit to an art museum provokes thought and discussion. I'd love to pass that on to Eli.
For about fifteen minutes we looked at art and talked. Which landscape would he like to walk in? What would the waterfall in the painting sound like if it was real? In this room, can you find a painting with a dog in it? Does the person in this portrait seem happy or sad? We talked about the difference between a painting and a sculpture too.
And we searched the art museum for kids...
Although I moved on to other career possibilities, I truly loved my time studying Art Education. I call upon that knowledge more than you might think, especially now that I have a child.
If you are interested in taking your child to a museum but don't know how to start, check out...
- Gladys S. Blizzard's Come Look with Me: Enjoying Art with Children (Charlottesville: Thomasson-Grant, 1990). It provides beautiful reproductions with a little background information on the artist plus a handful of questions for kids. Just reading through it (or her subsequent books) before a trip to a museum will get you in the swing of viewing art with kids.
- For older children, try Jude Welton's Looking at Paintings from the Eyewitness series of books (London: DK, 1994).
- The Children Should Know series is great! The first is 13 Artists Children Should Know by Angela Wenzel. Look for other books in the series by Wenzel but also Brad Finger, Florian Heine, Silke Vry, and Alison Braverstock.
- Discovering Great Artists by MaryAnne F. Kohl and Kim Solga
These are the books I'm most familiar with, but I know there must be many new titles out there. If you know of particularly good books about sharing art with kids, do tell!