Art museum programs that draw kids in

Article Index

by Karen Stysley

What to get your kids hooked on art? There are plenty of art museums in Maryland and Washington, D.C. that offer program for kids and families to increase their interest and knowledge of art.

On a recent trip to the Baltimore Museum of Art, my 6-year-old gave Auguste Rodin's cast "The Thinker" some thought before declaring: "Hey, it's that guy from 'Night at the Museum 2!'"

Nothing against the hit movie about art coming to life, but I'm pretty sure we ought to be associating more with the classics than Ben Stiller. Thankfully, we were attending a program at the the BMA to help with just that.

My daughter and I were attending Free Family Sundays, which includes an informal chat with a museum educator and a chance for some hands-on art based on a single work in the museum's collection. On this particular Sunday, we spent some time learning how to stamp and decorate foil before making our own creation with pencils, beads and glue. Then we compared our work to the BMA's silver display. (Theirs was beautiful, but lacked our special brand of beaded unicorn Pegasus.)

ArtMuseumWTrisha Chason, a teaching assistant at the BMA, says up to 250 people come to the workshops during the winter, and those who attend aren't just kids. Ages at the program range from preschoolers to college students, Chason says.

"We figure out interesting ways to make the collections accessible for kids," says Jessica Braiterman, manager of community engagement and learning at the BMA. "If the parents are having fun, they'll bring their kids back," she says. That is important since children are the visitors and the collectors of the future, Braiterman adds.

A three-hour block of unstructured time to make art can also be a big draw, Braiterman says.

"School work is so structured," Braiterman says. "They have 30 minutes to be creative."

For Bowie resident April Green, such programs enrich the education she provides while homeschooling her 5- and 7-year-olds, and gives them an important exposure to art. For the past three summers, they have attended the National Gallery of Art's weekly "Stories in Art" series where kids get to see a work of art, read a related story and complete a related art project.

Green has also taken her kids to similar programs at the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore.

"We have so much in this area that's available" for kids to further their art education, Green says.

Thanks to the programs, Green says her kids have expressed more interest in art and in books about art.

"They will come back home talking about the program, and they will see something on TV and tie it into what they learned," she says.

To expose your kids to more art than is offered in the classroom, check out the programs offered at art museums in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and even Annapolis.

© 2018 Chesapeake Family Life. All Rights Reserved.