Take a Trip to an Art Museum

We love going to art museums!  Looking at swirls of paint, sculptures larger than life and different artist's styles makes for a fun outing.  Our kids weren't always so excited though... here's some ideas on how to start an art lover in your family, or become one yourself!

Before the Museum  (A little planning before you go makes the trip a lot more fun!):

- Most museums have a web-site showing their most popular paintings, sculptures, etc.  Print out paintings you will see, make a book of things to find, or playing cards with paintings 
-talk about different artists, hang a few paintings from the museum you will visit around the house 
-assign older kids to tell about certain art pieces at the museum 
-call and find out if there is a "Free Day" 
-find out the story behind a painting 
-discuss "museum manners"... do not touch paintings, walk only, stay with the group 
-explain that they will see naked people in paintings 
-invite someone that loves art to join you 
-take the camera!

At the Museum

-Pass out booklets or cards and go on a hunt 
-act out statues or paintings 
-play "I Spy" in one room 
-catch a lecture 
-don't try to see the whole museum in one day (this is why we go on a "free" day) 
-ALWAYS hit the gift shop, you don't have to buy anything, but they have fun items based on the artwork you just looked at.  It's a great place to find good art books, cards, etc. 
-one of my favorite things to do is to have a handful of questions (see below) We choose one room of paintings and have the kids answer them. 
-have them fill out an Eyes, Ears, and Nose chart... and "Jump into a painting".

(here's how)

  • Draw a grid 6 across and 3 down. 
  • Draw an eye in row #1, an ear in row #2, and a nose in row #3.
  • Have the kids look at one painting with lots of details and use their imagination to JUMP into the painting.
  • If you were in that painting, what would you see?"  Write words or draw pictures to fill in row #1. 
  • What would you hear?"  Fill out row #2.
  • What would you smell?"  Have them fill out row #3.

-Share your results with the group.  You will see things that you've never seen! 
-look at lots of different art.  Appreciate your child's favorites, they may not be yours! 
-take pictures.

After the Museum (later in the week and beyond)

-watch a video about a museum...Night at the Museum, National Treasure, any of the Getting to Know Artists DVD by Mike Venezia
-check out books on artists or paintings
-go to a local art show
-talk with artists
-pull out paint or clay and try some artwork yourself!
-our favorite this year:  Create an art museum out of a cardboard box!

  • Mimi has an exhibit on a regular basis with different artists. She picks and researches one artist.  She looks at different artwork by them, and then creates her own.  She "hangs" artwork in her mini-museum by the artist and her own replicas.  When it's finished, she gives the whole family a "tour". 

Art Museum Questions 

Print on bright paper and cut into strips.  Have everyone choose 2 or 3.

  • Does this remind you of anything else you’ve seen?
  • How would you describe this painting to a blind person?
  • What time of year is it in the painting?  How can you tell?
  • Why did this painter paint this?  What was he or she trying to say?
  • What is the style of this artist?  What else did he or she paint?  What subject did this artist like to paint?
  • Why would someone pay for this type of art?
  • If you could pick a painting or sculpture from this museum for your private collection, which would it be?
  • Can you stand in the same position as the person in the painting/sculpture/drawing, etc?
  • What do you think the people are thinking? Saying to each other?
  • How would you want the artist to portray you in a painting?  Pose for us.
  • How does the artist show movement?  Do you think the movement was slow or fast?  What musical instrument or song might accompany this painting?
  • How does the artist teach us about this person? (background items, colors used, etc.)
  • What questions do you ask a painting?
  • Who is the most important part of this painting?  What or who else do you notice?  What is going on in the background?
  • What secret does the artist have to tell?  Is there something that this artist puts in every painting?
  • Where does this painting take place?  Why here?  Could this happen anywhere else?
  • Art is one way an artist can talk to the world.  What is this artist saying to the world?  To you?  Is this message clear? 
  • Does this painting look realistic?  How did the artist make it believable?  Look at the placement of the people in the painting.  Are they on the thirds?  What makes this painting interesting?
  • How are the paintings in this room similar?  Different?  Is there a general feeling here?
  • Color is an important way an artist can influence a picture. Complementary colors are very dramatic when they are next to each other.  Greens and blues are the cool colors and create a soothing effect.  Reds, yellows and oranges are the hot colors.  What colors does the artist use and why? What color did the artist put down first?  Last?
  • Brush strokes can affect the mood of the painting.  Are they big or small, rapid or slow?  What did the artist use to get color on the canvas? 
  • Size can make a difference on how you feel.  What does the size of this painting make you feel about this painting?  Where would you hang this in your home?