On Thursdays, the art museum attached to our illustrious university campus offers free admission to the public.
"Free" is a word that really resonates with me. I totally grok it.
Also, I sometimes feel that I'm a bit slipshod in the art department with my kiddos. Their exposure to the fine arts isn't exactly consistent. Please don't tell my grandparents about this. They own a Picasso and various other works, and would probably disown me if they knew their great grands couldn't tell a Monet from a Manet and haven't ever visited the Met.
So when we go, we go on Thursdays, and we seem to always manage bump up against their taekwondo class, so we're in a bit of a rush. The silver lining: We have to quit while we're ahead. The kids complain that they didn't get to stay long enough. This is a good thing.
We get a sampling of sculpture, classical, Renaissance, and American Impressionist paintings -- and a bunch of modern art, like the installation above. It's like a whirlwind tour of the past two thousand years in art.
I never know exactly what to say to my young tourists as we wander around. Even though I loved the few art history courses I took in college, it's tricky striking a balance between, "Oh, look, what a PRETTY PICTURE!" and delivering an erudite lecture that would make their eyes glaze over.
So my strategy is to say just a little -- to point out a couple things and let their senses do the rest. The goal at their ages is to enjoy art, to absorb it, to find what fills them with wonder or what makes them squawk, "I COULD DO THAT IN TEN MINUTES AT HOME!" ... but not to necessarily comprehend what makes it work.
And on that note, the girls and I have been reading this lovely book this week:
It's a completely charming blend of fiction and non, part travelogue and part art history through the eyes of a young Swedish girl and her grandfatherly friend. Experiencing Paris through her eyes brings back memories of taking Ian there as a toddler -- but that's a story for another time. Anyway, there's hope. Maybe they'll know a Monet from a Manet after all.