A Trip to the MOMA: Looking at Art

We had a wonderful day visiting Grandma Crackers (that is what all the grand children call my mom) in the city. We went to the MOMA and strolled the Sculpture Garden, ate lunch and looked at some paintings by Picasso, Chagall, Cezanne, Rousseau, and more.

So I thought this would be a good opportunity for me to bang my cultural literacy drum! Even though your bean sprouts are little it doesn't mean that looking at art is wasted on them. Modern Art is easy for young viewers to look at. With a little planning ahead you can have a wonderful time. Check with the museum to see if they have an outdoor area where you can picnic and or a sculpture garden. Find out if they have any kids guides or free programs available (these are usually for children 5+.) Pick a time that is your child's best self time. Meaning not when they are tired and cranky. Go during the week when the museum is less crowded.

Looking at Art:
Ask them to tell you what they see.
What do they think the painting is about.
Ask them if they can find the - fill in the blank.
What do they like/dislike about the painting?
Talk about colors they see.
Talk about emotion (does the painting make you feel happy?)
It is alright to lead them by pointing out something they might have missed.

Henri Rousseau's The Dream
What do you see?
2 Lions, a bird, a snake...
Do you see the elephant?
Yes! I do!
Emme can you find the moon?
Moo! Moo!
Yes! It must be night time. Lu, where do you think they are?
The jungle!
Do you think the lions look scared?
Yes. Maybe they are afraid of the snake.

At this age it is primarily about looking and describing. Soon they will be able to understand that paintings tell stories. At the end of our looking you can see that Lu began to begin talking about what the painting may be about and not just what she saw. You can also play games with children like eye spy. After we were done looking at The Dream I turned around and saw another Rousseau painting with a lion. I said, Lu I spy another lion! She quickly looked around until she found it. Then we briefly talked about that painting.

I do not recommend for any age to expect them to look at every picture in the gallery. Choose a couple of paintings that interest you and your children. It is no use torturing yourself and them. If you like something then it will show and it will be easier for you to talk about. Don't go expecting to spend a long time. It really depends on your child and their attention span.

Lu asked her Grandma Crackers if she could goto another museum with her next time we came for a visit!


Amy said...

We looked at the fish and my little one loved that.

Kristin said...

I love the conversation starters you posted, those are exactly what I needed. Now I want to plan an art museum visit.


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