The Minneapolis Institute of Art is a great place to go with children. It is free. It has a wide variety of historic and modern art. And it has several small touches that make it incredibly family friendly.
The first place we went was the Family Center.
It’s a large room with open ended blocks to build with, plenty of seating on chairs/couches for the grown ups, half circle rocking boats for the children to use and books. It is big enough for many children to explore without feeling crowded.
When I decided that we would go the museum we began talking about the trip together. I would explain how we do art by painting and drawing at home and we are going to go to a museum that has artwork from artists. “Artists are people that create artwork.” I also describe what I expect her to do when she’s at the museum. “A museum is a quiet place, like the library, so we are going to walk, look at the artwork and talk quietly.” I was eager to go and see what was interesting to her.
Near the Family Center there were tables for children that had more building materials available. It was an inviting place for children and grownups to sit and work, while looking at art. (Bring paper next time and work on looking at a piece of art and draw?) I didn’t have any goal for going to the museum this first time. I did want to draw her attention to some artwork from time to time though. I would walk up to a painting and say, “Look at this piece of artwork,” or ask questions about the piece, “What colors did the artist use?” The piece that drew her in - for over 20 minutes - was the old dollhouse on display. What is interesting to your child depends on their interest, their age, and how much interest you show in the piece. I allowed her to look for as long as she wanted, casually asking questions or pointing something out.
When considering your trip to an art museum allow yourself plenty of time to explore, draw your children’s attention to a couple of pieces of art (go online to see what exhibits are displayed) and come back again and again!
*MIA also houses the Children's Theatre, which has wonderful plays for children ages 3 and up.
*The actual entrance of the museum is not in use, at least during the winter, so you have to enter on the east side.
*There is a free coat/bag check (they do take donations). You cannot take your backpack with you, so they offer small totes (also free) and will check your bag for you.
Review by Rebecca Nutter. Minneapolis, MN
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