If you have visited Milwaukee WI you have likely seen the Art Museum. The Burke Brise Soleil or the moveable white wings that soar over the art museum and lake front are hard to miss. They have become a landmark in Milwaukee. If you have never seen the inside of Milwaukee Art Museum you are missing out. Not only is it a gorgeous piece of architecture, but the museum works hard to curate an interesting and diverse collection of art. I was incredibly fortunate to attend an arts elementary school that took us on trips to this art museum 4 times a year starting in Kindergarten. I have no doubt this led to my love of art museums and ability to appreciate different types of arts. The sad reality is that most children do not get these experiences in schools today, but fortunately families are equally welcome in most art museums so I encourage you to make the most of the one in your area. Last winter, when we were still living in Wisconsin, I re-visited the Milwaukee Art Museum with my almost three year old twins and their grandparents. I was delighted to find it welcoming to families and easy to navigate with children.
When attending an art museum with young children, make sure to talk about expectations beforehand. Some ideas about what to discuss include;
*Talk about what they will see at the art museum. Are you going to see a specific exhibit? Show them some pictures they can look for. Are you going to do a scavenger hunt and look for colors or shapes? Practice this beforehand. Are they going to see a particular artist? Introduce them to the artist.
*General expectations (using walking feet, quiet voices, looking at the art with our eyes, but no touching)
*Read books about the art museum to help get everyone excited and clear about what to expect.
At the museum -
We went to MAM on a Friday when they have their Play Date with Art program. Included in the price of admission, our children got to make their own artwork around a theme and participate in a sing along. The people running it were helpful and enthusiastic. Our children had fun and then we explored the visiting exhibit. We encouraged them to show us what they wanted to look at. "What art do you want to look at next?" "Where do you want to look now?"
*Be realistic about how long your child(ren) can look around. One exhibit with lots of time for wandering and questions was enough for our two year olds. Do not feel like you need to see the whole museum in one trip.
*Be mindful of eating and sleeping times and follow your typical schedule. You can use your ticket all day at the museum, so you can leave and come back in the afternoon if you'd like to see more.
*Bring a notebook so they can make sketches or you can write down questions or ideas to talk about later.
After Your Trip:
Learning through adventure is always deepened by further explorations at home. After the visiting the art museum you will undoubtably be inspired to create. I always come home and pull out canvas to work with after we visit the museum. You can find them reasonably priced at most art shops or on Amazon. Pay attention to what you child notices at the museum. Are they talking about what they see in the pictures? The colors used? Did you discuss what materials were used? Try to build on that when you get home. Here are some general ideas:
*Explore a new art material you noticed an artist used, such as oil pastels.
*Explore one of the four basic elements of art (color, shape, line, texture) - here we explored Line with Tape Resist Paintings.
*Work with clay to create sculptures.
After our most recent museum trip we explored mixing two materials: Oil Pastels and Watercolors
Materials needed: Canvas or Watercolor Paper | Oil Pastels | Watercolors (we used Liquid Watercolors) | Cups for Paint | Paint Brushes | Art Shirts | Table Cover
Set Up: Cover table | Prepare workspaces with a Canvas and Oil Pastels | Have watercolor supplies nearby
1. Color on the canvas with oil pastels
2. When they seemed to lose interest in using the oil pastels, I asked if they would like to add some watercolor to their artwork. They were both eager to try, so I passed out cups of watercolors, cups of water, and some brushes. If your toddler is not well acquainted to watercolors, I would suggest doing a painting or two with just watercolors or at least go over the basics of using them before you try this activity.
Once the painting began, they were incredibly focused on their work. I must admit I was slightly nervous at how they would turn out, since the watercolors pooled a lot on their canvas, but once they were dry the results were beautiful.
Clean Up: In my experience, watercolors require soap and water more than some paints. We headed to the bathroom when they were done painting for some hand washing. Our toddlers worked on rinsing their brushes while I put their wet paintings up higher to dry and moved the table covering to our washer machine. After rinsing the brushes, they laid them out to dry on the counter and added their art smocks to the laundry.
*The Museum's website offers tips for families along with various programs for kids and teachers.
*Museum is closed on Mondays except in the summer.
*The museum is free, but there is a suggested donation of $5. There is also a cost to enter the feature exhibition although it is free for children under 12, members, and WI teachers.
*Feature exhibits are free on the first Thursday of every month, but this can be rather crowded.
comments powered by Disqus