Tag Archives: art

14 Ways to Visit an Art Museum

I like art museums. When I first made the transition from teaching to informal museum education, I was specifically interested in art museums. I wanted to teach families how to connect with the artwork by creating hands-on interactives for hands-off museums.

Here are 14 ideas to enhance engagement at art museums:

1. First, visit the museum store to buy a postcard featuring artwork currently on view – at least one postcard per family member. Ask a staff member for recommendations or to confirm that the chosen postcards are accessible in the gallery. Then, find the piece of art from the postcard in the gallery. Once you find the postcard artwork, try activity 2, 3, 4 or 5 on the back.

2. Imagine you have become a part of the artwork. Use your senses to describe what you can see, smell, hear, taste and touch.

3. List the materials used to create the artwork – this is especially good for contemporary art museums.

4. Write a poem about the artwork you selected – use sensory words from #2 or materials from #3.

5. Create a subtitle or caption for the artwork.

6. Have family members search the museum for the painting, sculpture or object that best represents themselves. Take turns sharing everyone’s choices or try to guess.

7. Scavenger hunts…before you go, make a list of items based on a theme below. Try to find all the items on your list in the art throughout the museum.

  • Animals
  • Colors
  • Countries (where the art was created)
  • Food
  • Letters
  • Materials (used to create the art)
  • Opposites
  • Rhymes
  • Shapes
  • Sports
  • Weather

8. Choose one category from above, or come up with your own, and track the number of times you find items from that category in the art. For example, how many dogs can you spy throughout the museum?

9. Break into two teams, and explore different galleries. Write down interesting objects you find in the artwork, like a blue vase or ice skates. Trade lists and explore the opposite gallery with your new scavenger hunt.

10. Compare two paintings or objects that are side by side in the gallery. What is the same? What is different?

11. Imitate the pose, expressions, and body movements of the sculptures in the museum. Remember, no touching!

12. Find a portrait. What do you know about the person depicted in the artwork? Create a biography for this person based on clothing, facial features, the setting, and other objects in the piece of art.

13. Imagine yourself as a character in a painting. Interview another person in the painting. Draw a comic or filmstrip of the interview.

14. Create an ABC art book or chart. Find an artist, title, material, subject or object in the art for each letter of the alphabet. Write the word or a description for each letter. Revisit your trip and share memories at home as you add images for each letter.

What is your favorite way to explore an art museum?

Seeing Multiples


I like repetition
, or as the San Diego Museum of Art says, multiples. I recently visited their exhibition Young Art 2011: Making Multiples, featuring student artwork hung in the galleries among artists like Andy Warhol and Josef Albers. Student artwork, which is only on display through May 29, 2011, was created in a variety of media with subjects such as a field of sunflowers, a classroom of desks, ceramic toes, a carousel of horses, a tree of owls and a 3-headed monster.

The exhibition also featured an interactive wall display for visitors to record their thoughts on the following prompt, “To me, making multiples means…” Did you catch the alliteration, or letter ‘m’ repetition? A few of my favorite responses included: family, being a twin, and “the stars are multiples of the sun.” This display got me thinking beyond exhibitions and museum collections to the repetition/multiples surrounding us everyday – both physically and conceptually. Keep reading for crafty ideas to explore repetition.

Here is my growing list of multiples (in no particular order of thought):
•       a rose garden
•       stairs
•       stamps
•       chicken pox
•       a forest
•       boats in a harbor
•       a litter of puppies
•       a box of crayons
•       tongue teasers
•       popcorn
•       a library or bookstore
•       Portland (Oregon) bridges
•       wrapping paper
•       a bag of skittles
•       bulk food bins
•       traditions
•       laundry

What’s on your list? Beware, it is difficult to stop thinking of multiples once you start.

Try This:
1. I spy…multiples! Visit your local park, museum, or farmer’s market and try to find one multiple for each letter of the alphabet. Write the letters of the alphabet down on a piece of paper. You can complete one paper for the entire family or race to be the first to complete the entire alphabet. Or, create a multiples notebook with each letter of the alphabet on a separate page. Whenever your family finds a little spare time, illustrate your notebook with the multiples you see around you.

I Spy variation: I Spy books are full of repetition. Visit your library and check one out to explore with your family. Then, visit these blogs to learn how to create your own reusable I Spy book or placemat.

2. Tongue Teaser Alliterations: You already know “how much wood can a woodchuck chuck” and that “Sally sells seashells by the seashore.” Create silly alliterations with your family.

3. Printmaking: This is as easy as carving into the surface of Styrofoam using a toothpick, but don’t push all the way through. You will need ink and a roller from a craft store. Visit an art museum or grab an Andy Warhol picture book for some inspiration!

4. Optical Illusions are often filled with repetition. Check out the work of M. C. Escher  and then visit your local science center for some brain teasers!

Itinerary: [insert your city here]
You can look for multiples everywhere – in nature, museums, stores, harbors or even at your house. Here are a few of my favorite places to search:

Balboa Park, San Diego – Don’t miss the Rose Garden, Mingei International Museum (Beckoning Cats through January 2012), San Diego Museum of Art (Making Multiples through May 29, 2011), Palm Canyon and the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center for optical illusions.

The Huntington near Pasadena, California has a little bit of everything – gardens, library and art collections. Perfect for a game of I Spy.

Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh – don’t forget The Andy Warhol Museum!

A local Farmers’ Market – produce, art, rows of booths…

Things To Do on raveable