This summer we exposed our 4- and 6-year-old daughters to most of the major museums and galleries throughout Paris – and they loved it! This was their first taste of the formal “art world” and they took to it more in than we anticipated.
The secret was keeping it light and fun for them, taking their lead and leaving once they’d had enough (despite my personal desires to linger longer). You can tell when kids’ enthusiasm starts to wane and it’s better to quit while you’re ahead than to drag things out past the dreaded “I’m bored” decree. A strategic snack break might buy you some more time, but after an hour or two a change of venue is in everyone’s best interest.
With a suitcase full of children’s art books, we read up on a few of the masters before visiting their works at the Louvre, D’Orsay, Orangerie, Pompidou and Picasso museums. Laurence Anholt has a delightful series of books that bring artists like Van Gogh, Degas and Da Vinci to life for kids. The girls were thrilled to find the real paintings and sculptures they had read about jumping out of the pages of their books.
A highlight of our summer was visiting Claude Monet’s house and garden in Giverny, about a hour’s drive north of Paris. I wasn’t sure if it was permitted, but I brought two little canvasses and paint sets with us just in case the muse struck. We found a quiet bench overlooking the famed Japanese bridge and the kid spent a magical morning painting their own waterlily masterpieces.
The girls have become quite adept at picking out the distinctive styles of various artists and I can see their influences in the outpouring of doodles they are constantly creating. My youngest has a particular predilection for pointalist dot pictures a la Seurat and loves to madly splatter her paints like Jackson Pollack. I’m not so much a fan of the mess, but I just can’t stifle that abstract expressionism.
As for my 6-year-old, she has boldly declared her favorite artist to be Pablo Pistachio.
It’s great that they are so interested in art, that helps kids in every way…
A good way to kick start the inspiration, something I would have loved to have done in the real instead of drooling over art books.
Pablo Pistachio!!!! I love the picture of your two drawing on the bench. That is a great activity to bring on your travels because it is lightweight and makes very little mess. I need to remember to throw the notepad and crayons in my bag when we are wandering around the city rather than just en route.
Did you enjoy Musee D’Orsay – I love the little ballerina. If you’re in London, do take them to the Tate Modern