Queuing up at the Louvre and jostling with iPhone-armed tourists to sneak a peak at the surprisingly small Mona Lisa might not be a kid’s idea of art appreciation. However, providing experiences where children can engage in creative expression is important. Pete Docter summed it up in his recent Oscar speech for the winning animation feature film, Inside Out, addressing kids around the world: “There are days you’re gonna feel sad, angry and scared, that’s nothing you can choose. But you can make stuff, make films, draw, write. It will make a world of difference”. Visiting art museums can explain the creative process from inspiration to final product as well as giving children some hands on opportunities and interactive experiences. Here are some of the best art museums for kids...
1. Keppel Centre For Art Education – National Gallery Singapore
Housed in Singapore’s former City Hall, this beautiful place of discovery for children is made up of four unique spaces. The Art Corridor houses a massive puzzle that teaches colour theory; the Project Gallery is where children can get hands on with the creative process; the Children’s Museum allows kids to handle tools and understand how an exhibition is staged; the Art Playscape is a beautifully illustrated playroom where children can step inside a painting and explore a narrative on a massive scale while they climb, crawl and explore.
Art Playscape – Developing Curiosity Through Imaginative Play. Source: National Gallery Singapore
2. The Children’s Museum of The Arts
New York City, United States
This state of the art facility is one-of-a-kind. Founded in 1988 by Kathleen Schneider, the aim of this museum is to share the transformative power of the arts with children, by providing opportunities to make art side-by-side with working artists. Divided into the categories of Fine Arts, Media Lab and Portfolio Development, kids can get hands-on with painting, drawing, textiles, sculpture, puppetry, stop animation, photography and even develop their own portfolio for the future.
"Sew What?" Installation. Experience the textures of the installations, sculptures, and wall hangings that are woven, crocheted, knotted, braided, twisted and embroidered. Source: Facebook, The Children’s Museum of The Arts
3. Ghibli Museum
This mesmerising place makes for an enchanted experience. It’s a museum dedicated to the animation work of Studio Ghibli which is known for creating countless anime characters, including the iconic Totoro. Studio Ghibli was also a recent Oscar nominee in the animated film category for its hand-animated film, When Marnie Was There, alongside the winning film, Inside Out. Studio Ghibli creator, Hayao Miyazaki intended for the museum to be a work of art in itself; so in addition to studios where you can experience the animation process and a theatre showing finished animations, there are spiral staircases inside and outside the building that lead to secret places, dead ends and other parts of the museum. Don’t miss the giant Catbus character brought to life and the rooftop garden.
The Ghibli Museum. Image Source: Japan Guide
4. Maison des Petits – Centquatre
You would never know that this site was once a morgue, complete with coffins and a hearse repair workshop. In place of the macabre history is one of the largest artist-in-residence spaces in Europe, and within it is a design-led and colourful space for mini artists, where they can make toys and discoveries.
Building (Re-creation) Installation by Leandro Erlich, Le CENTQUATRE, 2011
5. The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art
Amherst, United States
As if his beautifully illustrated picture books were not enough, this magical museum is dedicated to collecting, preserving, presenting and celebrating children’s picture books of all kinds – not just Carle’s own. Inside are three art galleries, an art studio, a theatre and libraries. There are countless workshops, storytelling sessions and performances scheduled where kids can try their hand at Eric-style collaged picture techniques or create sculpture out of found objects.
Image Source: Wikipedia
6. Playeum – Children’s Centre for Creativity
This independent, non-profit organisation champions children through creativity by combining art and science. In a light-filled workshop space, kids can tinker, jam, explore and speed! With flow in mind, the area is divided into Create for Speed, where you can make cars and race them down the ramp, a dark room and shadow play area, and a Play Maker Space where recycled materials are reclaimed for artistic endeavours.
"Welcome to my World" encourages children to construct shelters, which will grow throughout the exhibition’s duration, while exploring sights and sounds through the eyes and ears of insects. Source: Facebook, Playeum
7. Kids Museum of Glass – Shanghai Museum of Glass
In what used to be a glass factory is now a modern design museum for children dedicated to the art of glass. Not a material you’d call synonymous with children, this sparkling, reflective space encourages kids not to be afraid of the breakable and (gently) embrace the delicacy of glass. This cool and edgy space contains a ‘glass city’ complete with exhibition space, multimedia areas and glass-themed installations, as well as places to create original artwork.
Image Source: Inhabitots
8. If getting to an Art Museum is tricky, check out the online resources of the NGAkids Art Zone by the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, United States. They offer a fantastic range of interactive applications that you can download and use at home.
As Teddy Roosevelt from Night At the Museum (Shawn Levy’s 2006 blockbuster movie) said: “Anything's possible Lawrence. If it can be dreamed, it can be done. Hence the twenty-foot jackal staring right at you.” So go ahead and let your kids loose in these kid-friendly museums and see exactly what they can dream!