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HomeFunKid-Friendly Art Museums in Maryland

Kid-Friendly Art Museums in Maryland

My first real memory of a visit to an art museum is from a third grade field trip to the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California. The collection included sculptures made of chocolate and several Andy Warhol depictions of soup cans. At the end of the field trip, we were invited to create art from found objects such as colorful cardboard and pompoms, and I was hooked. Art museums were great.

Art museum curators and educators work hard to connect their communities, including children, to art. During the pandemic, programs and events for children went virtual, but things are slowly returning to normal. Museum educators are finding ways to safely hold some in-person classes and events for kids, making this the perfect time to take your children to an art museum. Here’s a roundup of kid-friendly art museums in Maryland.

American Visionary Art Museum, Baltimore

Quick Overview

Admission: Children 6 & under- FREE; Student/Child- $9.95; Adult- $15.95; Senior (60 & up)- $13.95
Hours: Wednesday-Sunday 10am-5pm
Address: 800 Key Highway, Baltimore, MD 21230
Phone: 410-244-1900
Classes: Online only at this time
avam.org

As you drive up to the American Visionary Art Museum, you will instantly realize that this is a different kind of art museum. A mirrored glass mosaic covers a large section of the main building, a giant whirligig looms over the property, and the balcony of the Jim Rouse Visionary Center is shaped like a giant metal bird’s nest. There’s a small play area outside as well as three buildings to explore.

Courtesy of American Visionary Art Museum

The American Visionary Art Museum is the official national museum for works created by self-taught artists — and kids really connect to the art on display here. Some works of art are created from unusual materials, such as wooden matches, while others are so large that they have to be displayed in a special building. Still others are small kinetic sculptures, and children can push buttons to make the sculptures move. Kids will enjoy viewing artworks that are quirky, insightful, playful, and thought-provoking. Don’t be surprised if your children want to create their own visionary art!

The museum is not offering in-person classes at this time, but its website includes virtual art workshops in English and Spanish for families to use at home. As of this writing, face masks are required to enter the museum.

Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center, Solomons

Quick Overview

Admission: Members-FREE; Non-members- Suggested donation $5/person
Hours: Monday-Friday 9am-5pm; Saturday & Sunday 10am-5pm
Address: 13470 Dowell Road, Solomons, MD 20688
Phone: 410-326-4640
Classes: In-person for children & families
annmariegarden.org

Annmarie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center’s mission is to connect people with art and nature. Helping children make those connections is front and center at Annmarie. The sculpture garden features kid-friendly activities such as paths that invite you to walk (or hop) like various animals, tiny fairy houses for children to find, and a playground with kid sized buildings for imaginative play. The sculpture garden’s art is all around children as they explore and discover. In the Arts Center building, you’ll find two floors of art gallery space.

Annmarie Gardens, Solomons
Courtesy of Annmarie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center

You’ll also find the artLAB inside the Arts Center. artLAb, a space where children, teens, and adults can transform ordinary items into art, is packed with art and craft supplies for all to use. Annmarie offers classes for children and families as well as special events and kid-themed festivals throughout the year. (Tip: Buy festival tickets early, as they typically sell out.) SNA card holders can buy festival tickets at a reduced rate; contact Annmarie for more information. As of this writing, Annmarie requires masks in the artLAB and during indoor Kids and Families classes.

The Art League of Ocean City Center for the Arts, Ocean City

Quick Overview

Admission: Free Admission
Hours: Monday-Friday 9am-4pm; Saturday-Sunday 11am-4pm
Address: 502 94th Street Ocean City, Maryland 21842
Phone: 410-524-9433
Classes: In-person for children & families
artleagueofoceancity.org

Whether you live in the Ocean City area or are vacationing there, stop by the Art League of Ocean City Center for the Arts to discover local artists’ work. Local artists-in-residence create and show their work in the Center’s Resident Artist Studios. Visitors can interact with the artists and learn how art is created. The Center sponsors several special events each year, including the Artists Paint OC plein air event, ArtX, and the Ocean City Film Festival. Admission to the Art Center is free.

Courtesy of Art League of Ocean City Center for the Arts

Throughout the year, the Center offers a variety of art classes for children and families. Free Family Arts Days take place on summer Saturdays; led by an art teacher, families work together on a creative art project. Advance registration and payment are required for pottery, painting, and other visual arts classes for kids, which are held year-round. Visiting families are always welcome.

Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore

Quick Overview

Admission: Free Admission
Hours: Wednesday, Friday-Sunday- 10am-5pm; Thursday- 10am-9pm
Address: 10 Art Museum Drive, Baltimore, MD 21218
Phone: 443-573-1700
Classes: In-person & online activities
artbma.org

The Baltimore Museum of Art’s collection is large and diverse, so your kids are sure to find a gallery that intrigues them. Highlights include ancient mosaics from Antioch, Syria; African and Asian art; Native American art; the Cone Collection, which features contemporary art by Henri Matisse, Picasso, and more; American art, including a gallery of artworks and furniture created by Maryland artists; and medieval and Renaissance European art. Temporary exhibitions showcase items from the BMA’s collections as well as works by a diverse group of contemporary artists.

Courtesy of Baltimore Museum of Art

There’s plenty to see inside the museum but be sure to save time to visit the sculpture gardens. These terraced green spaces feature modern and contemporary sculptures and offer places to sit and relax or sketch.

The BMA is working toward restarting on-site art activities for families. For now, families can participate in Free Family Sundays at Home art projects and other virtual events in addition to visiting the museum in person. Admission is free.

The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore

Quick Overview

Admission: Free Admission
Hours: Wednesday-Sunday- 10am-5pm; Thursday- 1pm-9pm
Address: 600 N. Charles St. Baltimore, MD 21201
Phone: 410-547-9000
Classes: Online activities
thewalters.org

The Walters Art Museum began as a gift of two buildings, an endowment and the Walters family’s extensive art collection to the city of Baltimore. The museum continues to expand its collection to include art from around the world and from humankind’s ancient past through the modern day.

Courtesy of The Walters Art Museum

Children will be drawn to the Chamber of Wonders, an eclectic collection of art, furnishings, taxidermy animals, and other fascinating objects; the Arms and Armor exhibit; and the Collector’s Study, which is designed to showcase art that the museum’s founders would have displayed in their private studies. Admission is free.

The Walters offers free drop-in community art making sessions on Saturdays and Sundays. After exploring all or part of the museum, families can sit together to create art inspired by items they have viewed or take supplies home to use later.

Tips for Visiting Art Museums with Children

  •  
    Keep it short, especially for younger children. You don’t have to see every work of art to make your museum visit worthwhile. Focus on a theme, such as animals or boats, and invite your children to look for art that incorporates that theme.
  •  
    Have a meal or snack before visiting the museum so hunger does not become a distraction.
  •  
    Sculpture gardens are great places for children to stretch their legs and use outside voices.
  •  
    Remind your children to respect rules concerning running on paths and touching the sculptures.
  •  
    Visit the art museum’s website to get a preview of exhibitions and installations. This will help you tailor your visit to your children’s ages and
  •  
    interests.

By Nancy Parode

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