Venturing out in the winter in a northern climate takes a mind over matter approach. On this particular January Sunday, we had planned ahead of time to visit the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA) for their second Sunday Family Day. Earlier in the day, my 5-yr-old cried outside of church while still in our car, claiming to be so frozen he could not move, “God’s house is a cold place.” I was preparing for what I thought would be a tough sell – – heading to MIA – when the sugar-high from the massive donut at post-church hospitality kicked in. He was optimistic and ready to go despite the cold (it wasn’t that bad at a mild 15 degrees).
I’m now a whiz at getting in and out of there – this would be the third time in a week and a half that I had visited the MIA. Once to see a play at the Children’s Theater, once for Art Adventures training and finally today for free Sunday.
We are fortunate to have MIA as part of Minneapolis’ arts and culture scene. It’s even better that, as many museums do around the country, days are set aside for people to come to the museum at no charge and take advantage of the activities, performances and learning they have to offer. We often go to the Walker Art Center’s first Saturdays too. These can be very busy days at both, but getting in early is better. MIA’s Family Day is 11:00a.m. – 5:00p.m. Our family of four visited between 12:15 – 2:00.
All of the work the program coordinators must do for these days pays off. The MIA is so huge and could be overwhelming without some direction, especially for kids. For art to be appreciated by children, it needs to connect with them in many ways.
1. Make it relatable. Today’s line-up offer performances by dancers from Ballet Royale Minnesota, who were invited and told of the days theme – Wings – stories, performances and activities about birds, wings, angels, dragons and such. The 3 sets of dancers ages 11 to 14 took the theme, selected from photos of artwork MIA had sent them, and created their own story about the artwork and coreographed their dance numbers. The captive audience of kids and adults enjoyed the performances, lasting about 25 minutes total. The young dancers made it seem that all kids could do something like they did.
2. Make it fun. Activities included mosaic-making, puppet-making, guided tours, dance performances and workshops. Today with my ADD husband along, we chose one activity that we’d never before done at previous Family Day – the Gallery Hunt. He was good with maps, so we assigned him the job of map-reader for the Take Flight Gallery Hunt along with the answer key. Calvin was very determined to make it to all 6 works of arts on two different floors. The kids had worksheets they took with them, marking found works of art off as they went and beginning to understand how areas of the museum are organized.
3. Make it interactive. All of the works related back to the theme, allowing for comparing and contrasting ideas, a method they really seem to respond to. And mixed media like films (for Richard Hunt’s the Transformation Mask, 1993) and fabrics and works of art meant to be touched, heightened the experience.
For the kids, it was enough to take in after about 1 hr 45 min. After my constant reminders, not to touch the artwork, Calvin hesitated for a moment before sitting down on a bench, “Is this a work of art?”
I did get in a few follow-up glimpses of the works of art I’ll be talking about at my daughter’s school through their Art Adventures program. There are ten curriculum themes, each theme with eight works of art. Last year our school did Sources of Strength, this year it will be Family, Friends and Foes. We checked out Shiva’s Family for awhile in silence (at left).
I’ll be studying up on four works of art for Art Adventures and certainly, we’ll be back for another Sunday Family Day at MIA. We Heart Art.