by Trish Anderson
Let’s face it. Most Kids and art galleries don’t really mix. Kids get bored quickly and what’s more boring than standing around looking at old paintings. But art galleries can be interesting, even for kids.
Many, especially the larger establishments, now have kid-friendly activities that allow for art-making while sneaking in some art education. Demonstrations, crafts, themed tours, kid-targeted exhibitions, sculptures that can be touched, or even better, climbed all over, and rooms where quiet-levels aren’t a factor. These activity days and workshops are a great way to get your children through the front door without the need for bribery.
Graduates of these days are much more interested in return visits and once they’ve become accustomed to relating art with fun you can start planning a more grown up experience. Check out your gallery’s event calender and look for exhibitions that might interest both you and your children.
Free exhibitions are best to start with because if it doesn’t work out [for whatever reason] you can turn around and walk out without worrying about wasted money.
Talk about the art you’re looking at. You don’t have to be an expert. Tell your child what you like or don’t like about a couple of pieces. Perhaps mention the subject, colours, how the artist has created the work, even the framing is fair game. Show your children that sometimes you have to stand right back to see the pictures properly.
At the end, comment on which you liked best and ask them for their favourites as well. Don’t forget to ask why they like what they do and always remember that their opinions are just as valid as yours.
Just before their eyes start to glaze over and boredom hits, take them to the gallery café [if it’s got one] for a treat or to the gift shop. If you can budget a few dollars each, let them choose a memento of their visit. Get something little yourself such as a postcard of one of the artworks. Your kids will prefer “junk” but they’ll see what you purchase and eventually their choices, like their art preferences, will grow more refined.
Try one or two gallery visits a year or alternate with trips to museums and botanical gardens.
You’re making memories and learning experiences for your children that will broaden their horizons and give them something to cherish when they grow up.
At the very least, with a little planning and flexibility, you’ll all have a fun day out.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Trish is a freelance writer, tutor, and mother of three healthy, happy children [and one neurotic, but loving, dog]. Read more of her articles and pick up a copy of her new e-book, Plan to Write Plan to Succeed, for free at http://beginningsmiddlesends.blogspot.com/
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