I really like art, can you tell? I have a degree in drawing. Drawing. I didn’t even know you could major in drawing until I did. Sure I could have majored in Painting or even Sculpture but I wanted to guarantee I would have a worthless college experience. Don’t get me wrong, I loved college. It kept me from worrying about getting a job, at least until I graduated.
Anyway, as an art major I took a lot of art history classes. I’ve studied and looked at more artwork than your average person. I love going to art galleries and museums. My growing up involved me dragging my parents to museums instead of them dragging me. Now I drag my daughter to museums and galleries. Mostly for selfish reasons, after all it is my day off too, but I try to encourage her to experience them on her terms in hopes that she will enjoy the experience and not look at it as just something Dad makes her do.
Most museums have incorporated hands on aspects that encourage kids to do things and therefore get more out of the experience. Milwaukee’s Art Museum has teamed up with Kohl’s to offer arts and crafts areas. Once they had a Mardi Gras themed mask making area. Currently they have a reclaimed materials art area…that means making art from trash. They usually have a little exhibition of art that accompanies the area which appeals to me because it allows me to see new or different artwork aside from their normal collection.
Having areas such as this changes the atmosphere of the museum. I remember keeping my hands in my pockets when I was little. I was so worried about touching something I shouldn’t that sometimes I spent more time looking at the lines on the floor than the actual art. My daughter does not have that problem at all. We were walking around one particular sculpture, actually there might have been some mild running, laughing and having fun, the I noticed some older patrons giving me dirty looks. I might have heard a “tut-tut” but my attention was caught by an approaching security guard. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the older woman smile. The security guard looked down at my daughter, who was now cowering at my side, and gave her a huge grin. He then went on to tell us how happy he was to see us having fun and enjoying the museum. He also told us about some new exhibits that we shouldn’t miss. He told us about a couple of pieces in the basement that most people don’t realize they are supposed to be interacted with. When were were in one of the rooms he suggested a little boy wandered in and was quickly reprimanded by his mother for following our lead. Art can be serious but it can also be fun. Not everyone experiences art the same way and as long as you are not damaging the artwork, I say to each their own.
Now when my daughter and I have a day off together and I ask her what she wants to do, she is just as likely to say the Art Museum as she is to say the Children’s Museum and when we are out and about we will always duck into a small gallery just to see what is going on.