Plan a free family trip to the art museum

Oct 26, 2009

Vincent Van Gogh, Starry Night Over the Rhone, 1888.

Art is meant to be experienced in person.  It's hard to capture an authentic response to an art work when it's on a page of a book. I became a fan of Vincent Van Gogh, for example, only after seeing his painting Starry Night Over the Rhone in Musee d'Orsay. When I walked into the room, it was as if the heavens had parted and the angels were singing (granted there was a skylight). The colors and textures of the canvas were so much more vivid than its reproductions! 

Looking at art in museums is a wonderful way to expose children to different cultural worlds and pasts.  It's an enrichening experience that will help children grow in their confidence and knowledge of the arts.  It's also a great opportunity for parents to engage in significant dialogues with their children about different themes that they'll see, like war, romance, and religion.

Many established museums provide parents with tools and resources on how to look at art with children.  Here's one site I found on the Museum of Modern Art's website that has some great tips. There are also family programs available at the museums, such as guided tours and hands-on art workshops.  A lot of these programs are free with the purchase of admission.

If the cost of admission is an issue, there are free museum admission days throughout the year.  What a deal!  To help you start planning your next trip to the art museum, I've listed some of the special event days below.

Portland Art Museum.  Free admission every fourth Friday of the month, 5 - 8p.  Four free Sundays a year; the next free family day is Sunday, Nov. 8.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.  Free admission first Tuesday of each month.

Art Institute of Chicago.  Free admission Thursday nights 5 - 8p.

National Gallery of Art.  Admission is always free!

Museum of Modern Art in New York City offers family programs with free admission.  See details on their site.

Guggenheim in New York City.  Not free, but great discounted rate.  Every second Sunday of the month and Family Day, admission is only $15 per family.  The next Family Day is on Nov. 22.

The picture below is a photograph that one of my students took and gave me after visiting the Guggenheim with her family.


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