October 13, 2006

Walker Art Center Tour

We took a great tour of the Walker Art Museum. We were supposed to have an outdoor tour and then scavenger hunt of their sculpture garden. However, random Minnesota fall weather struck once again and due to the snow, blustery winds and freezing temperatures we were driven inside for our tour.

The tour was still very well done. We split up into two groups, K-2nd and 3rd and up. Once again my family was all together in the younger group. In the younger group we focused on colors, texture and feelings from a work of art. We also learned about the difference between a sculpture and a painting.

We had an excellent tour guide. She was really able to engage the children and ask great questions in ways that were easy for them to understand. They began by sitting on the floor in front of a painting and being asked about the colors they saw and how the painting made them feel. The tour guide was a bit taken aback that most of the group said it was a sad picture. It really was a bright colored happy picture. She took it in stride though and decided to not even make an issue of it.

When they arrived at the next picture, a dark picture filled with reds and blacks and representing the bomb dropping on Hiroshima the mood of the kids was much sadder and several immediately reconsidered their opinion of the other painting. Ciaran was among those - he was saddened by the painting I actually wondered if he would cry.

The tour guide was excellent at having them talk about how the color and style of the painting made them feel and why. She talked about texture with them and shared some history of each artist and art piece with them. We looked at several works of art, paintings, sculptures and some interactive pieces inclusing a dolphin oracle that all the kids enjoyed.

Ciaran's favorite piece is the one above. Only this is actually several pieces of art represented because it catches the reflection of other things in the room as it is a painting of three women brushed onto stainless steel that looks like a mirror.

Being with children at an art museum is like a breath of fresh air. They are so observant of little details that as adults we are quick to overlook. Sometimes they have a gift for seeing the obvious and even seeing things that may seem complicated to us but are really quite intuitive to them.

Ciaran picked out the smallest red dot in a mostly black and white painting that I had overlooked. He also immediately answered the question about what these women are looking at correctly (us the people looking at them because we are reflected) and he explained that he thought they were sad because they were poor because their clothes were dirty and not cared for.

I was impressed by his observations and his enjoyment of a tour that I was slightly afraid would bore him and test his 5 year old boy patience. I was pleasantly surprised and Rhia enjoyed the tour as well. Sirah fell asleep in her backpack about halfway through the tour. Another family continued on with an outdoor tour but Sirah was ready to just go home so we headed home.

If you live in the Twin Cities I highly recommend the tour. It was informative, engaging and interesting for the kids. The tour guides were excellent and the kids all seemed to enjoy themselves. Also not being a huge fan of modern art, it was nice to get some more perspective and appreciation for myself.


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