For my daughters to want to help and protect the Earth I know that they need to love what our Earth is here for and holds. In my mind, beautiful creation, more specifically art is one of those things. We make many trips to the art museums and here are some great tips we have:
The old motto “Be Prepared” is the best advice for taking your kids to art galleries and museums. Everyone always appreciates a work of art better if they know something about it. Before you go to a museum or art gallery, get on their website and see what kind of art they have. Educate yourself about one or two pieces so that you can tell your kids something interesting about that piece when you come to it in the museum.
Toddlers, of course, won’t care about the background history of a van Gogh, but you can still certainly get them prepared to appreciate one. Before you go to a museum, research the style or subject matter of a certain artist featured in that museum. If the museum has a van Gogh, for instance, pull out some paint and let your kids practice making “swirls” like he did.
If the museum has a lot of nature paintings, take your child outside and help them draw or paint what they see. Then, when you are at the museum, remind them of their own artwork and ask them if they see the same things in the paintings they are viewing.
It can also be fun to look for a certain color, shape, or animal. “How many horses will we find in this museum?” or “Show me all the paintings in this room that have the color purple in them.” Or talk about the mood of a person in a painting. “Is this person happy or sad? Angry or scared?”
A child in grade school will appreciate a little bit of background history. When I was in 4th grade, my teacher had us learn about Vincent van Gogh, Leonardo da Vinci, Pablo Picasso, and Claude Monet. We loved it. We spent time reading about each artist, writing poetry about each artist, and making paintings similar to what the artist himself made. We loved learning the “weird” facts, like the fact that van Gogh chopped off part of his ear and sent it to a woman in the mail.
Or the fact that Monet started to go blind at the end of his life so his paintings became more and more blurry.
Or the fact that da Vinci also made many inventions. So get online and learn a fact or two about the artist you are going to go see.
Teenagers will appreciate more of the cultural and social background of art. Educate yourself a little bit about the time period in which the art you are about to see was made. Then, when you are in front of a painting, ask your teenager what the artist may have been responding to when he/she made that painting. Was there a depression going on and that’s why the people in the photograph look so sad?
Was the king incredibly powerful and that’s why his portrait shows him dressed in such finery?
What symbols can you see in each painting? Involve them in a discussion but be prepared for resistance. When I would go to museums with my teenage brother, he would sulk and roll his eyes. Finally I started asking him to just find his favorite painting in the room. Sometimes he would just point at anything to get me off his back. But then, we would go look at that painting, and I would tell him something I knew about it or about the artist. Then he was interested in discussing it and asking questions. Even if I didn’t know anything about that particular painting or artist, we would talk about the colors or the subject matter. We would speculate on what we thought the artist was thinking.
Bottom line: Be prepared but don’t be intimidated by art. It is always open to interpretation, so let your children interpret away!