Great Expectations

I took my almost-three-year-old nephew to the art museum yesterday. As a former museum educator, I was so up for the experience. I couldn’t wait to share art with him! I was thrilled I was the first in the family to take him to an art museum.

HeathstepsBut I was quickly disillusioned. All of my grandiose ideas for introducing art to him quickly faded as I couldn’t get him to slow down and stop–much less look at any of the art. He was wild, uncontrollable, and we zipped through the galleries at warp speed.

My greatest fear had come to pass. I thought he would remember the museum only as a place in which I told him "no" and "do not touch." I didn’t want him to think of museums in this way.

But today I asked him if he wanted to go back to the art museum and he got all excited and couldn’t wait to return!

I accomplished the most important thing at all: I made the museum a place he wanted to visit–even if it was to be on his own terms.

We’ll deal with the other issues (like stopping to look at art) when he’s ready.HeathHeathmeHeathhand

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2 comments to Great Expectations

  • I am an artist and a full time mom, I have 4 kids and my youngest is 3 years old. He has to go with me to every gallery opening, exhibition and museum. His favorite, of course, is the dinosaur exhibition at the National Museum of Natural History. But after saying to many “no”, and “don’t touch”, sometimes he’s able to stop and say: “I like that”. Right now he is fascinated with some of Dalis’s work, and he really likes me to show him art history books, and talk about things that are interesting to him, like how the people used to live, the dresses they wore, what they ate, and how they worked.

  • On top of being an artist and a mother, I am also a Scout Leader. Last Fall I was very excited to introduce my Webelos to the world of art, as they had an Artist activity badge and beltloop that they could earn. Most of the kids had very little exposure to art outside of art class in school. We took full advantage of Tacoma’s monthly Art Walk, taking in galleries and museums until closing time. The kids were delighted in the huge variety of art there was to see, as well as watching various artisans in action. Many delighted in making up stories on the fly about various abstract pieces they took interest in. Not long after this tour, I took them to an annual western and wildlife art exhibition, in which I also participate as an exhibiting artist. The artists were eager to tell the kids all about their art, how they do what they do, what inspires them, and even demonstrated for the kids. This tour ended with a kids’ art session, in which they could create their own masterpieces under the guidance of a local and very well-known artist. The kids couldn’t wait to go home and draw and paint some more! This whole artist-badge persuit culminated in a Scouts’ art exhibition at the next Pack meeting, in which the Scouts displayed their own works that I had matted for them and hung on show panels for the whole Pack to see. The kids were very nervous about showing their artwork in such a manner, but were soon all grins when they saw the reactions of the rest of the Scouts and the parents. With all that, they got to see both sides of the art world. They are all very eager to tour the western and wildlife art show again this year, and it looks like I’ll have many new eager little faces in tow this time around. And the artists at that show, as before, are excited to show the kids what they do.