This past weekend, Elle and I headed over to FIU's Frost Art Museum with my friend Michelle and her son (and Elle's BFF of all time) Dominique. Michelle had a paper to write about the museum, and I had heard from a fellow mom that the Frost Museum had a great children's gallery, so we went along for the ride.
You may have noticed that the title of this post is already pretty long, but if I could, I'd tack on: When Your Kid Has No Interest in Art, Whispering, or "Not Touching". Because really, when you take two 3 1/2 year olds to a museum, that's what you're up against. But I encourage you to tackle the challenge--three is a good age for a meaningful visit to a "real" museum in my opinion. The Frost Museum is small, uncrowded, free, and truly does have a great interactive children's gallery, called the Kenan-Flagler Family Discovery Gallery. I really can't say enough about the Family Discovery Gallery--the stations were so much fun for adults and kids, so even though it is a relatively small room, we spent about 30 minutes there when we arrived, and another 30 minutes before we headed out--and the kids didn't want to leave! So, head on over to the Frost Art Museum with your preschooler--here are a few tips from me for making your visit a success.
Tip #1 is to bring a stroller, and strap your child into the stroller. It's even difficult for adults to follow the "no touch" rule at museums, so imagine being a kid and trying to employ that self-control! I mean, a lot of artwork almost begs to be touched, so don't put the responsibility on your little one to defy those urges. At the same time, much of the artwork should be seen at eye level to be enjoyed and discussed, so be ready to hold your little one at times so he or she can get the full effect.
Tip#2 is to be ready to discuss the art on your child's level and frame it in his or her terms. If you're truly trying to begin exposing your child to the world of museums, galleries, and art, you have to take on a lot of responsibility for making the visit enjoyable and stimulating for your child. While not every piece is going to welcome discussion with a toddler or preschooler, many will. With abstracts, you can discuss colors and shapes. At the Frost, we spent a lot of time in front of Luis Jimenez's Mustang because Dominique loves horses. Pieces featuring animals are great for younger kids. We also spent a lot of time with Nicolas de Largilliere's Portrait of the Duchesse de Berry because Elle is currently obsessed with queens and princesses. Try to think of what is really engaging to your child in general at the moment, and spin stories that relate around the art pieces. Emotions are great too. You can ask if the subjects are sad, happy, scared, excited, etc. It was really fun getting Elle's interpretations of what was going on in the different pieces.
Tip #3 Eat before you go. This one is pretty basic, but don't forget that there is no food allowed in the museum, and the Frost does not have an on-site cafe.
Tip #4 If it is a nice day, spend time outdoors. There is a Sculpture Garden, a lake with ducks and I think turtles, (and according to Dominique, red and blue dinosaurs.) Between the family gallery and the outdoor areas, there is plenty to break up or flesh out the trip if the kids get restless in the main galleries of the Frost. Also, you can always head outside for snack time or a picnic.
Tip #5 If you haven't talked about whispering or inside voices for a while, review the concept BEFORE you enter the museum.
Visit the Frost Museum website for hours of operation, and more information on the exhibits. Good luck at the museum with your little one!
photo credit: pale/sxc.hu