Teaching Children to Appreciate Art

I have a confession to make: As a child, I hated visiting museums and galleries. I grew up in rural Idaho where the closest art museum was a day’s car ride away, so this shouldn’t have been a problem. My father is an artist, however, and this meant that we travelled extensively to shows and galleries. Many of our travels involved traipsing through art galleries and museums for hours on end.

Art was an everyday part of my life as I watched my dad work, and so it was hard for me to think of a visit to a museum to look at hundreds of works of art as an adventure.

I’m sure I found some of the art interesting, but after ten or fifteen minutes in a museum, I would have seen enough. I’m sure my parents endured a great deal of complaining and whining from me and my siblings. I couldn’t imagine that my parents truly found the art interesting – I suspected that they derived some kind of sadistic pleasure out of dragging us through the galleries until our eyes bugged out and our legs buckled.

Last week Carrie and I took our children on a tour of upstate New York, bits of Pennsylvania and Northern Ohio. We visited historic sites, Niagara Falls, and took in the green, wooded countryside (quite a shock for our desert-dwelling children).

We ended the trip in Cleveland on Friday, and since our flight didn’t depart until late in the afternoon I thought it would be a great idea to take our children to the Cleveland Museum of Art.

You should have heard the groans when I announced my intentions! I quickly realized that the baton had passed from one generation to the next and that I was now my parents. Truth be told, I may have even taken some secret pleasure in the whines and groans . . .

The thing is, my childhood visits to galleries and museums did plant the seeds of a deep and abiding love of art. I’m extremely grateful that my parents insisted I experience great works of art in museums. I feel I owe it to my children to provide similar experiences.

And so, we set off for the museum. I had visited the Cleveland Museum of Art previously, and had fallen in love. The museum itself is beautiful, and the art collection is broad and well-displayed. After the Met in New York, Cleveland’s museum just might be my favorite in the country.

Before our visit with our children, I had gone on the museum’s website to find out when docent tours were offered. We arrived just as a tour was beginning. Our docent was an immigrant from Hungary, and her accent made it a little hard for my kids to understand what she was saying. As they became accustomed to her accent, however, and as we visited the various exhibits in the museum, my children seemed to pay more and more attention.

There were whispered complaints about tired feet from our nine-year-old, and some mutterings about the tour being “boring,” but when the tour ended after about an hour, something interesting happened. Instead of wanting to bolt out of the museum, my kids wanted to go back and look more closely at art we had moved by quickly.

Each of our children seemed to find something of particular interest. Our seventeen-year-old daughter wanted to spend more time in the modern art gallery. Our fourteen-year-old son was fascinated by the ornate suits of armor and swords in the Armor Court (of course). Our Eleven-Year-Old daughter loved the ornate china and tea services in the decorative arts gallery. Our nine-year-old was fascinated, if slightly exasperated, by the pop art section, and modern gallery (at one piece she said, “This makes me very angry!” so we talked about what makes modern art so interesting).

This nine-year-old skeptic wasn’t sure what to think of the modern art collection

We saw works by Caravaggio, Monet, Picasso, Sargent, Turner, Warhol, Rothko and many other artists that they have learned about in school through the Art Masterpiece program.

Our docent had shared interesting facts about various artists that we wouldn’t have known otherwise. I was able to share insights from the many biographies of artists’ lives that I have read. I think those extra insights turned what could have been a boring walk around to look at “pictures” into a journey into the history of art.

In the end, the art museum ended up being one of our favorite stops on the trip, which does my heart good.

One visit to an art museum probably isn’t life-changing, but I hope we are doing our part to instill a love of the visual arts in the next generation.

How Did You Gain Your Love of Art?

Did your parents drag you to art museums? If you have children, what did you do (or are you doing) to instill a love of art in them? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

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48 Comments

  1. I think my first real experience to art was taking a 10 day trip with my older brother when I was 19. We took off in my van and visited museums and galleries in Wash DC, NYC, Boston, with the highlight visiting the Jose Orozco murals at the library at Dartmouth College. WOW what a wonderful trip! We even ate lobster in Maine and climbed Mount Washington. I have twice been back to see the murals at Dartmouth and visited the other museums many times. I remember buying slides of my favorite work and each museum and using them in my art classes for many years. Another great memory from that trip was seeing the three paneled Waterlilies by Monet at the MOMA. I was fortunate to be the only person in the room and after about 3 minutes they came alive with sound and wind.

  2. This really made me smile Jason! The things that we inflict on our children for their benefit is something that quite often ends up being passed down and later understood in a much different way. I enjoyed seeing the different genres that your children were attracted to. They were raised by the same parents but they are so different and very individualistic.

    I was born and raised in a small community in the northern Rocky Mountains of Montana, at the head of Flathead Lake. It has always had a very active art community, even back in the 50s and 60s. My uncle made beautiful handmade frames and stretcher bars which he sold to the local artists and he collected their work and became lifelong friends with many of them.
    Uncle Jack started taking me to artist’s studios when I was about nine years old and continued on through my teens when I went back to stay for the summer. I didn’t know what the artists were doing in the beginning but it sure looked interesting and I even like the smells of the oil paints and thinners. I had already been doing doodles, cartoons and drawing but I didn’t even realize why. I think he knew what I was becoming before I did. I realized many years later that I had been in the studios of some very well-known artists including Cowboy Artists of America, Fred fellows. My art world opened up in high school when I was exposed to the work of Salvador Dali and then a field trip to the Portland Art Museum put me in front of original Andrew Wyeth paintings and that did it for me!!

    I have two children and starting when they were very little, the studio was always the favorite room in the house. I couldn’t keep them out of there so I supplied paper, watercolors or colored pencils and let them go out it.
    I also took them into galleries on summer vacations and even took them to art supply stores at a very young age, which to me is the equivalent of the ultimate candy store.
    When my daughter grew up she said it was so fun having an artist for a dad and that I gave her, her imagination. When I heard that I felt very accomplished and even honored.
    And now the same cycle begins again with my grandchildren and it’s even more fun now! My oldest granddaughter is much better right now than I was at her age. It’s actually kind of scary!

  3. When I was 7 years old, my family followed my father to Naples, Italy, for a civil-service job (Dad was a human resources specialist, working for the Navy).

    This was my introduction to art. Naples is a beautiful city, packed with history and myth and populated by the ghosts of some of the greatest painters and sculptors of the Renaissance. By simply walking down the street, a boy surrounded himself with ancient architecture and works of amazing talent. Altar pieces hidden in chapel niches and hand-carved public fountains became a part of my daily experience. From my bedroom window, I could watch lazy smoke curl from the summit of Mt. Vesuvius, and a short drive brought us to the cities of Pompeii or Herculaneum where ancient paintings in the villas of the rich gave way to graffiti in the brothels, or inside the gladiator’s quarters. Ancient gods seemed to gaze down on me with wrathful and amused stares.

    I stood in front of Michelangelo’s _David_, saw sculptures by Bernini, stood in front of paintings by Caravagio, Titian, Leonardo, and Raphael. I looked at the same landscapes that Botticelli drew inspiration from, and forded streams that Leonardo once sat beside, contemplating the behavior of water to record in his notebooks. We lived there for three years, traveling to Rome,m Florence, Venice, and other cities. I actually walked on the same cobblestones as the Apostle Paul, when he arrived in Pozzuoli! My mother loved the art, so we got a lot of opportunities to visit museums and public square and churches while Dad was working. And I was always encouraged to read and draw (because it kept me quiet and out of mischief).

    So yeah, that’s pretty much how it happened.

  4. Another great blog Jason. I wasn’t taken to art-galleries & museums by my parents when I was a child but loved school trips to see them. Now that I am a full-time artist, I think those school boy visits sowed the artistic seeds in me. Creativity comes from a divine source for me & I just love to visit art-galleries & museums to be refreshed & inspired to create more of my own artwork…

  5. You hit the nail on the head about taking children to galleries and museums. Our daughter, being the daughter of a sculptor, would moan and groan about going to “one more gallery opening” or “one more museum”. Now, as an adult she has a true appreciation of the arts, and all different types of art. No, she has no interest in pursuing a career in the arts but speaks frequently of her love of the arts and culture and how it has made her a more complete individual.

  6. In addition to browsing art museums, galleries and special exhibitions, I found several picture books that feature various artists. These were fun for me and my children, and introduced different styles and art eras, helping prepare the kids for the museum visits. We also made art, starting with simple crayon, and watercolors, both in published coloring books, and plain paper for original creations. We do a lot of reading, and sometimes made our own illustrations. Recently, while grandchildren were visiting, we created an original story, each taking a turn to add on to the part before, and then illustrated it in chalk on the driveway. Also, a favorite with grandkids is for me to do half a drawing, send it to the child to finish. Then he/she sends it back for me to see, along with a new half drawn piece I am supposed to complete. A little imagination goes a long way.

  7. I have loved art all my life. When I was a child during summer break from school, I would set up a card table and chair on the front porch and draw the people from Tarzan comic books. I was interested in the human body and and would spend hours and hours out there doing art. Another interest was horses. My Uncle played the horses and had all the magazines so I would also spend time drawing the horses from the magazines. I really don’t know where my passion for art came from because I don’t remember my parents ever taking me to a museum. During the subsequent years I took many different kinds of art classes. At one point in my high school years my Mother was going to enroll me in a class at the Art Institute in Chicago. However, I was insecure about taking the train up to Chicago by myself. So that opportunity was passed by. I was involved in the art program at school and at graduation from high School, I received the most likely to suceed in Art.
    Now skip to adulthood. Marriage and three children. Not much time for art. However when the three girls were in school I enrolled in a local night class on drawing. I tried to take another class, but my husband made it much to difficult for me. I do remember at some time showing the girls how to draw. Teaching them “how to see” what they were drawing. One summer, our whole family took some classes. We enrolled in clay schulpture, clay pottery, and painting classes. They say that was the best summer they can remember. I guess my involvment in art and involving them in art is where I planted the seed for art appreciation.
    My oldest daughter is very good at drawing, My youngest daughter is a graduate from the Art Institute in Chicago, and my middle daughter is an avid art collector and designer of jewelry. They all hold down demanding day jobs but still find time for making a little art and attend muesums regularly.

  8. My parents were artists so I definitely had a love for creating art . However, I was seldom, exposed to museum art unless it was through a school field trip as a child. My love for that was self initiated. My kids attend all of my art receptions and often come with me to attend the receptions of other local artists. And I’ll buy them a print or they’ll collect a postcard or business card for their own collections. When we go to museums we always put a story on the art. I’ll ask them, “what’s wrong with that guy? What happened here? Etc…. They love it, and I get a kick out of their stories. And they’re also interested in mine. They’re 8 and 6 years old, so it can be tough to really absorb the work when I’m with them so I’ll make time to visit the exhibits again on my own. Great article and an important one… creating art lovers out of the younglings!

  9. Enjoyed your article, it brought back my own memories. As a kid my mother (not sure if Dad was there or not) would take me to the Boston Museum of Fine Art and I always wanted to go see Copley’s Watson and the Shark and my mother wanted to go see the John Singer Sargent paintings. Today my favorites are the John Singer Sargent paintings.
    I used to take my 5 kids to the MFA and while looking at the paintings walk around looking for animals and always stopping at the mummies in the Egyptian wing.
    Today my kids like the modern art the best and visit on their own. When my youngest daughter was looking at colleges I visited all the museums along the way. She’s off to Pitzer in California which we didn’t visit. Hopeful when I go out for her graduation we can tour some great museums out there together…but I am getting ahead of myself.

  10. I used to love to go to the museum in Scranton PA when I was very young before we moved to the South. It was less an art museum and more an artifact museum but nonetheless it had interesting things to look at. You brought that memory right back to me–thank you.

  11. My grandmother was a single lady who worked in the linen department of a large hospital in Memphis. She had ten grandchildren, seven of us would visit for a few days late in the summer. Brooks is a city owned museum that was close to her mid town apartment. Close enough for us to walk. We found the a c was attractive as well as the quarter to get in.We would roam through the halls looking at the paintings. These visits were reinforced with junior high and high school field trips for me. I started painting at 14 and completed a portrait this week, 46 years later.
    Most of my career has been art related, another cousin was a professional musician, his brother a clown trained at Ringling.
    In Memphis there are bumper stickers that say, “Kiss An Artist Today.” Another, more widely know saying is, “Art For Arts Sake.”
    We must fight so that poor children can be exposed to the finer things of life. I’m afraid they are overly familiar with the common, ugly side of America.

  12. When I was young we spent several years in Calfornia, in the San Francisco Bay area. My aunt lived there and she was always interested in art. At age 7 she took me on my first trip to an Art Museum to see an exhibition of work by the indigenous peoples of the South Pacific. There was so much raw energy and power in the work I decided then and there I must become an artist when I grew up.

  13. I think one of the ways to teach kids how to appreciate art is to teach them to be good at it themselves. I am a retired teacher….I get to work on my own art, plus I have taught art to children in several art galleries and privately throughout southern Ontario. My children’s art classes have been recognized through publication in an internationally distributed art magazine. My adult son is not particularly impressed by my art, what impresses him is what I can get very young children to do. I would venture to say that it’s even more rewarding for teacher than it is for the students! Here is a link to my Facebook children’s art album. Even if you don’t have Facebook, you can see all the pictures.

    https://www.facebook.com/pg/Cathy-Pascoe-Art-109084739135546/photos/?tab=album&album_id=109085999135420

  14. I too received lots of complaints when my son and daughter were young and they were “forced” to visit art museums, galleries and art fairs. However, currently my daughter is completing her last two terms for her Bachelor’s of Fine Arts Degree in Graphic Design and is working freelance for a design firm in Los Angeles …it’s true the apple doesn’t fall from the tree! She and I went to London, Amsterdam and Bruge over last spring break and, of course, spent a good deal of our time viewing art. She used to give me time limits when we visited art museums etc., but now she’s right their along side me loving art!

  15. Thanks, Jason. My parents, being depression-era Iowans didn’t know anything about art. Your reminiscences reminded me though of my mother taking me to the library when I was eight or so. I still remember being in the adult section and looking through art books. A book on Paul Klee gave me a life-long interest in painting and art. Unfortunately, as a teen when I said I was interested in becoming an artist, they discouraged that. Now after a career in photography and graphic art, I am doing what I wanted then, creating art.

  16. I too had painter parents. My father supported the family as a commercial artist in NYC. My mom painted portraits, landscapes etc. My Grandfather did very well for himself as a cartoonist, Aunts and Uncles too. I struggled getting through High School and didn’t want to do what it seemed everyone else in my family did.
    I entered the Army to be a helicopter pilot straight out of HS and realized I too would become an artist. I had to wait two years before I could begin my study in art school and found myself following my younger brother in schools in NYC. Today I paint in my frame shop/gallery in which I used to show other artists work and now show and sell my own. I split my time between producing paintings and designing and assembling custom framing, the, “day job.”
    What seemed a difficult decision became an inescapable reality once I was away; from the constant presence of art in my parents home.
    I think when we are young we don’t realize how much we are shaped by our family. Not until we leave home.

  17. A subject after my own heart ….
    My unsettled childhood didn’t leave room for art but even so, my interest became self initiated. I am thankful for progressive pubic schools that filled that personal void. It flowered in suburban Washington DC with field trips to the National Gallery of Art and the Corcoran Gallery. I soaked that up like a dry plant. I lament school districts are willing to dump millions into their athletic programs instead of the arts … pet peeve. *grumble*
    I purposed my girls would know art as part of their daily lives. Two of my favorite child photos are of the youngest curled up asleep on the bottom shelf of my taboret. The other, my oldest is at her own little table painting opposite my easel. She started basic color theory before kindergarten. Gallery visits weren’t unusual or dreaded … they were an extension of what they were exposed to at home. Art was part of life.
    Today, one is a commercial photographer on her A-game in NY. The other has a critical government career who sketches to decompress … shocks me how dang good she is. Even more gratifying is when my grandson goes to his own little art corner and says, “I need to paint.” 🙂
    Our kids may not become artists but at minimum their lives will be enriched.
    Thanks, Jason ….

  18. Jason, thank you so much for sharing some of your family and their adventures with us! I personally love seeing your photos of the kids and hearing their thoughts as well as your own. Taking kids to the art museum does require some preplanning- I worked as a guard at our Minneapolis Institute of Arts, now known at MIA though I still refer to it as “The Tute”, and so it feels like returning home when I go there, and some of my old friends are still guards there. They are always happy to have a conversation about the art as well, and it has made our family trips to the Tute more interesting to have an entire other perspective.
    I love when our schools have Art Masterpiece programs as well, so when the students visit these works, they have a sense of seeing an old friend too.
    Thank you!

  19. Jason: Your experience with your children in an art museum echoes what many other kids/parents have been thru. When I was young I was taken to all the art museums in London, and in France, etc. when on vacation – at the time, the visits didn’t penetrate that much. The same went for classical music. But, sooner or later, as an adult, you come to love and appreciate the arts that made no impression on you as a kid.

  20. I taught middle school and high school for 38 years and every year took my students on field trips to art museums. Most of them had never been to an art museum and I know, from comments that have made to me, that those experiences were something they have never forgotten and in many cases made them life time lovers of the arts.

    1. I taught middle school art for 34 years and my experience was the same–those field trips to the National Gallery of Art each year were life changing for many of my students and made them lovers of art.

  21. Since I am from Cleveland, this blog has special significance to me. I have tried teach my children, now adults, the value of a museum. There is alays something for everybody. One of my favorite small museums is the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Each time I am there, I discovere something new.

  22. I get to see a lot of kids enjoying art at art fairs – and am happy that my art is really pretty kid proof. The parents are too – usually after the three year old has poked at something and there is this look of horror that they may have to pay for it until I tell them it’s ok. I do see the same response though – until they find something that appeals, then the interest level goes up and they go from booth to booth for awhile. It’s always good to see parents exposing the next generation to art especially when there is not a lot of arts instruction in schools. Occasionally I’ll get a young fan who returns to subsequent shows, so I know that here and there, a future collector is being trained.

  23. My first art experience was during a field trip as a fifth grader to the Cleveland Museum of Art. Your story brought back some memories and a sense of pride for the museum. The picture best remembered is “Stag at Sharkeys”(sp?) by Bellows. That was 70 years ago. After marriage and two boys, we spent time in Champaign/Urbana where my boys were excited to find coins in the fountain at the U of I art museum while we looked at the paintings. Later, in Buffalo, we took our boys to Albright-Knox Art Museum every Saturday for art experiences. I think that helped their appreciation of art, but neither is an artist. Our youngest child, a daughter, mainly saw me painting or doing ceramics so her experiences in E. TN were more limited, however she is more active in terms of producing art. Different experiences, different results.

  24. Well, rather than speak about my love of the arts, I would rather speak to how I hope to have helped to instill the desire in children. I participated in the Art Masterpiece program while my sons were in grade school. I teach children at Michael’s, and I always have my childrens’ friends experimenting with something while they are at my home.
    I have always enjoyed going to exhibits and taking my family to galleries. I myself went to the Monet exhibit five times when it was in Phoenix. However, as a child (and even now) I have similar feelings like your daughter’s when it comes to modern art, especially like the giant tube of toothpaste….art, really???? To each there own, as they say. Thanks for sharing your vacation photos and stories with us.

  25. I grew up just outside St. Louis, MO and occasionally my mother would take my sister and I to the St. Louis Art Museum. There was a Saturday program we attended several years where the teacher talked about a piece of art and I think we then drew it while sitting on the floor. At the end of the session we were given sepia toned prints of art in the museum. I kept mine for many, many years and then one day… Now I wish I had those prints of course.

  26. Growing up in a “cultural desert” it was, in fact, my school teachers who first took us to museums and galleries as part of the experiment in the 1960s with school excursions to broaden the experiences of kids like us from lower socio- economic backgrounds. Our parents were hard working people who valued education but had no time or money for “fancy-pants” stuff like concerts or art galleries. I am SO grateful to my school teachers, and to the publicly funded programs that gave me access to music and art beyond the borders of our middle city suburb. I fell in love with art in the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, at the age of 10. I was determined that one day I would be able to go to galleries whenever I wanted to. And so it has come to pass. My own art collection began with a small original print I purchased with one of my first pay checks at age 18. Alongside my professional life using my post-graduate qualifications in Political Science and International Relations, I ardently pursued my love for art in my free time in any city in the world I happened to be working. Sometimes I still feel like that wide-eyed 10 year old standing in front of a huge painting in a quiet, enormous room full of other huge paintings –my heart lifts and my mind soars high.
    It is an enormous privilege to have seen art that way all around the world, and to now, at age 64, have my own gallery where I celebrating my 14th year of operations.
    When people who knew me in academia or government service puzzle over my choice to retire early and open a small regional gallery I can honestly say that it is where my heart lay, always.

  27. I grew up in a town with no art museums. The art offered in my elementary and junior high consisted of coloring dittos with crayons or making paper chains to decorate the classroom.
    My first trip to a museum was when I was 20 and in NYC with my roommate. We went to the Metropolitan museum of art. The size of the paintings blew my mind. I fell in love with Caravaggio and also with the thickness of paint on Van Gogh’s paintings.
    As an adult I have always made art. My children always had art materials around. We lived in New Jersey when they were young and I would drag them to the museums. I would tell them to find their favorite and tell me what they liked about it. It was like a treasure hunt.
    Later when I was teaching art at an elementary school while I was working on my MFA, about once a month I would bring in 5 or 6 of my large abstract paintings. I had them get close to the painting and close their eyes for 10 seconds, then open their eyes and look. I even allowed them to touch the surface. Then I asked them to tell me the story they saw or how it made them feel. The older students would write a poem about their favorite one.
    I know many of these students now as adults. They always tell me how much they still appreciate art and remind me of some of the things we did in art class.

  28. My parents instilled good taste and a love of art, even though they were by no means artists. Though not in a position to collect expensive art, they hung great art in our home–mostly well-known prints, but also some works by little-known artists. One stunning oil by a Paris street artist hung in a prominent location. For fun, my sister and I would sometimes dig under my parents’ bed to look at the prints they hadn’t framed yet–especially a Salvador Dali. We lived near DC and would occasionally visit the National Gallery, as well. Fun topic!

  29. ~ I grew up in the Art Museums in Indianapolis and as a lucky kid studied at the ‘John Herron Art Institute’ in 1947 with a small group of G. I.’s returning from services and Two Catholic Susters dressed in – Black and White – their clothing of that time. When moving South joined ~ the Houston Museum Of Fine Art ~ and it was a plus. On my first trip to N. Y. seeing all I could in the wonderful Art there a treasure of memories to remember. My three children also learned to love the Arts when in my early career they would tag along as I would show and sale my work in the many side walk art shows and fairs here in Houston. I also taught art for the Houston Park and Recreation in the late 60’s. Now that way a real – JOY ! . . .

  30. Jason, what a thoroughly enjoyable post — thank you! Since I went to engineering college in Cleveland, I spent many happy hours in Cleveland Museum of Art…thanks for the memories!

  31. Loved the story with your children and the photos! I took my daughter to the Detroit Museum of Art many times. Another way to introduce children to art: children books usually sold at the museums featuring lives of artists. (I have a huge collection now for grandchildren) I enjoyed Egyptian art so another way to introduce the children to art is watch movies about artists lives. I enjoy Egyptian life and arts, so I bought some CD’s that reconstructed the palaces of the first egyptian pharaohs, those are beautifully done and my daughter loved them. I think she was the only 6 year old that knew who Hatshepsut was, (longest reigning female pharaoh in Egypt).

  32. I gained my love of art through a program called Tam O’Shanters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was a Saturday morning class where 300+ elementary aged children filed into the music hall of the Carnegie Museum, handing us a drawing board, box of crayons, a pencil, an eraser, and a piece of manila paper on the way in. I went up through the ranks (it was by invitation) through high school, where the classes became increasingly smaller and more intimate. When we were older, our teachers would take us into the museum to sketch. During that time, the Carnegie Museum of Art was added, and it became an enriching aid. This was also the time Andy Warhol was achieving fame in New York, but we’d all heard about him, his struggles as a child, and what his family had done to help him. Now, as a parent and an art teacher, I strive to enrich the lives of children through studying artists and their works. Kids love to hear stories about those who have come before, and their work becomes a great jumping point for childhood creativity. I’m glad your own children had such a positive experience on vacation.

  33. Jason, great topic.
    My daughter went to Wheelock college, Boston. While she was there she went to the Museum of Fine Artis Museum for a job as an intern for child education. This was just across the Fens from her apartment…less than 5 min away. They hired her for no pay at first. She would go around the museum and find things to talk about for the children tours. It may be art or Egyptian whatever. One of the topics and views of the painting was Watson and the shark…a BIG hit with the children. She has now after being so involve in the MFA’s mission has become Manager of Community Arts Operations, so happy for her! http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/watson-and-the-shark-30998

  34. Capture a child’s interest in art starting with an ABC book of Art images. Use a small spiral blank book. Find simple images for each letter. For example: B: Bed: use Van Gogh’s bed image. Cut out images from used art magazines or search on line, print, cut and paste. Share observations about the art and Reinforce the alphabet.

  35. What a great article and a great reminder to keep persisting in teaching our children about art even when they grumble and groan. I had the same feelings about art museums when growing up and it wasn’t until I started to experience artmaking myself that I started to really become interested in seeing what present and past artists did. I also started reading their stories and that helped a ton too. For our kids (I have two young boys..6 and 3), I plan on utilizing children’s art books (I actually read them to help ME gain a better grasp on the lives and works of well known artists and they are usually a lot more interesting! Hmmm…that might say something about my maturity level:)) I also plan on having the boys learn about art around them through experimenting in making it. I’m really hoping this helps them grasp the value of art and how challenging it can be to make works of art. I currently have my kids participate in my art making by helping me with collage materials. I figure it’s a start!

  36. My aunt had a large tabletop book of art from the Louvre, which I used to pour over . My mother, who was a painter, introduced me to the Impressionists, who I loved.
    There were art galleries in San Francisco, and Sausalito, which were great to prowl around in, though my feet would end up hurting and I would be crabby by the end.

  37. By the time I was five I was already drawing enough so that by the time I was 7 my parents found an art program for children at the Kahn Institute of Art, taught by Eula Long, an artist and children’s book author and illustrator (“The Story of Chocolate” and “Pirate’s Doll”). What a great birthday gift. I stayed with Eula’s program for 7 years and have continued to do my art ever since. Eula always stressed the importance of free expression and I was encouraged to develop my imagery along any and every way I wished. I never had to conform to conventional ways of “seeing” things in ordinary ways. Art in my parental home, visits to museums and sensitive and supportive parents have enabled me to live a creative life. Now my grand-daughter has shown signs of being a truly gifted writer at age 11. At a very early age when we got together, I may have played a small part in that creativity by encouraging her to complete made-up stories that we started about various places and things. Planting seeds for artistic endeavors, may grow beautiful flowers.

  38. My mother was an art lover, so I’m sure my first art museum was as a toddler. We visited every art museum in every city anywhere we traveled. My only memory of complaining was at age 12 in London, where my legs and mind reached oversaturation.
    Jason, thank you for bringing up this topic! It reminded me of something I had forgotten: that sitting in front of Kandinsky’s four seasons at MoMA (at age 20) was the turning point where I decided to become an artist for real – specifically to become an abstract artist and paint like that!
    Thinking about my kids, I haven’t often dragged them on art excursions with me unless my own art is involved. Somehow the whine of “when are we going to be done” makes it harder for me to take in the art and enjoy the experience. Nevertheless, my daughter has grown up to be quite the illustrator and I often overhear her critiquing art she sees.

  39. I don’t have any children but I learned to appreciate art in a strange way. We lived in rural Iowa growing up so we had to travel to the “city”for everything . One of the places I loved was the public library there. My mom would only give me 15 min to pick out my books or else she would leave. Unsure if she really would or not I would find a couple great reads and there by the door were the art and photography books. I always grabbed a couple of those books and suddenly found out that I loved them. I couldn’t get enough of them, Particularly the photography. That is how I began to love art. If she would have given me 30 min in the library I might never have found out how much I love art.

  40. Great story Jason. I was never once taken to an art gallery when I was growing up. My parents were not really in to it, especially my Dad who made all the decisions about where we went. None of my four siblings were at all interested in art either. My love of art came from looking through my Nan’s old books stored in an old cupboard. I remember seeing a Dali painting and I was captured! My first experiences of art galleries were on school trips. I really hated all the ‘boring’ stuff by the old masters. It all seemed so stuffy and frustratingly boring. But when we got to the surrealists or the abstracts and modern art I found it so engaging and different. I loved that it made you think and question everything. So I guess I was the opposite to your girls haha. I love that about art, so subjective. Incidently, my Dad who used to tease me about being a lily livered artist…well now, in his late 70s, he has taken up painting!

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