One thing that we love about living in California is when family and friends visit. They take their hard-earned and well deserved vacation time to visit and therefore come bearing a carefully planned out itinerary of a few sights they would like to see while in California. We enjoy tagging along. It introduces us and our children to new experiences and adventures, many of which we may not have done on our own.
When my dad and step-mom visit we explore museums. Throughout my life my dad has introduced me to the arts, whether it be an art museum, a community theater, or a broadway musical. Now it’s my turn to make sure my children have these crucial elements in their life. My dad still plays an important role in making this happen. You see both my dad and step-mom are artists. So when they travel, they always incorporate art in some form.
Most recently we explored the new contemporary art museum, The Broad. It’s located in downtown Los Angeles, and is home to over 2000 works of art. Although The Broad doesn’t have any art exhibits specifically designed for children, they did have an exhibit by Jeff Koons that quickly caught their attention. He is best known for creating sculpted objects cast in highly polished stainless steel. The primary example being Rabbit, 1986. His art is powerful with color and possesses qualities which quickly appeal to children.
The Broad also has on display the Infinity Mirrored Room, Yayoi Kusama. You get 45 seconds in a room lined with mirrors and thousands of LED lights. Because of the layout of the mirrors and lights, the room appears endless. The tickets are free but they are on a first come first serve basis. We, unfortunately, did not get tickets. The Infinity Mirrored Room looks beyond cool! We’ll definitely be back for that experience.
We also spent a day at The Huntington. The Huntington consists of a library, an art collection, and gardens. The grounds are so expansive, that the day of our visit we only explored the gardens. Gardens are a lovely representation of art. Thankfully we left with a season pass. The Huntington Botanical Gardens consist of 12 gardens and 15,000 plant varieties. If you love cacti, many begin to bloom with vibrant colors in late spring and early summer.
There is an entire garden devoted to hands-on play and learning for children! The Children’s Garden is split into the elements of fire, earth, water and air. The day we went the temperature was nearing 90 degrees. Luckily, the Children’s garden contains many water features. A family favorite was the fog-grotto. The garden fills with misting sprays of water that are so fine they create a fog. The fog was cool and refreshing on such a hot day. It also had a very magical feel as children twirled, skipped and ran through the mist only to disappear and then reappear once again. It’s a challenge to get children to leave so plan on visiting the Children’s Garden last.
The Huntington also offers many family and children’s programs you can participate in for an additional fee. Just a few of the up-coming classes include flower arranging, fairies in the garden and Chinese brush painting. We haven’t tried these yet, but we plan to take full advantage of these offerings in the future.
One of our favorite art museums is the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). LACMA is the largest art museum in the Western United States and contains a very diverse collection of art. There is something for everyone. During our visits we spend a large portion of our day in The Boone Children’s Gallery, where the kids stay busy creating a masterpiece or two. A few exhibits that we make a priority to interact with are Chris Burden’s, Urban Light and Jesús Rafael Soto’s, Penetrable. Urban Light is made from 202 restored Los Angeles street lamps that illuminate the LACMA entrance come dusk. The kids love to run through these like a maze. Penetrable is made up of yellow plastic tubes that are intended to be touched. We like to think of Penetrable as giant spaghetti noodles. If you have a young child with a love for cars Chris Burden’s, Metropolis II is a must see. It’s a kinetic sculpture where you will witness hundreds of Matchbox sized cars zip and zoom by.
The Minneapolis Institute of Art is the first art museum we introduced our children to. They make art fun for the entire family. They have one day a month dedicated to family exploration. You can create art, go on a scavenger hunt, listen to stories, and enjoy local musicians. Those are just a few of the many activities they have available on family day. You’d be surprised at how many “grown-up” museums cater to families and children. Check out your local museums and to see what programs they have that incorporate children and the arts.
I’m so glad that the arts have played an important role in my life and now in my children’s life. For if I hadn’t exposed my children I may not have discovered Madelyn’s love for the arts. Art plays an important part in her everyday life. She enjoys sketching on paper as well as drawing and painting on her computer. She loves acting and just completed the production of 101 Dalmatians through community education and The Revolutionary War through her school. While browsing through museums Madelyn reads descriptions of art pieces and engages herself with the pieces that interest her most. Art, in its many forms, enriches the lives of children.
Art provokes and inspires our imagination to grow. Touring museums helps develop an appreciation for the arts. Children always find a treasure or two within a museum that they find fascinating. And what they do with that information has endless possibilities.
Touring a museum is the perfect educational element to inject into your next weekend outing. Have you discovered any museums that you would recommend? What’s your favorite museum? When you open the eyes of a child to art you will create a masterpiece.