Paintings & Playdates: Boston Museums Offer Fun Opportunities for Kids

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Posted October 2, 2013 by Scott Kearnan in Theater & Arts
Kids make their own art at MFA Playdates.

Do you think Picasso’s mom hung his early fingerpaintings on the fridge door?

Okay, probably not, but there’s a great way to get your kids interested in art, and maybe even encourage the next great master: Take them to Boston museums. Not all fine art is found on appliances, after all.

Whether you’re a parent, an older sibling, a doting uncle or aunt or a babysitter looking to entertain the kids with something you might actually enjoy yourself, it’s worth discovering MFA Playdates, a program offered by the Museum of Fine Arts that gives toddlers a peewee-appropriate pinch of arts exposure.

It’s also a chance for the grownups to meet other parents and caretakers with a cultural interest. So you might find a future playdate for yourself at Boston museums, too.

MFA Playdates include a story time

MFA Playdates include a story time, looking activity and art making fun. Photo provided by MFA press office.

MFA Playdates, held on the first and third Monday of the month, are open to kids age 4 and younger with an adult escort. Each month features a different theme and pairs a gallery “looking activity” with some type of hands-on art session. For instance, the theme of Monday, August 5th’s playdate is “You Are an Artist.” Children will view works like Annette Lemieux’s Pacing, which the artist created by stepping in paint and walking across the canvas to create a visual manifestation of monotony and tension. (Hopefully none of the kids tries this at home. I mean, I wasn’t even allowed to walk on the freshly vacuumed carpet!) Another piece they’ll see is El Anatsui’s Black River, an elaborate, undulating sculpture made mostly of aluminum bottle caps. It’s easy to imagine little ones loving the idea that great art can be made from what looks like junk.

And see? You probably learned a little something, too.

After the tots observe the art, they’ll have a chance to use collage materials to create their own piece “for the museum.” (Read: to hang on that fridge at home.) And the adults? They can grab a bite, talk art and parenting at either of the MFA’s two casual restaurants, the Garden Cafeteria or Taste. Both offer plenty of kid-friendly menu options. Boston museums are perfect for a family fun day or for getting together with other parents.

Besides, if you don’t expose your kids to the arts, how will you know if those messy fingerpaintings are the beginnings of a future master? Remember, today’s Play-Doh sculpture is tomorrow’s Sotheby’s-auctioned key to paying off those college loans.

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