Kids Get a Kick Out of Art

By: Andrew McGivern, curator of exhibitions on August 17th, 2011

Looking through a camera lens this past week, the delights of art came into crystal-clear focus. It’s been written all over the faces of the children who’ve flocked to Family Fest, the Woodson Art Museum’s new drop-in, art-making festival.
The glee, the sheer joy was in their movements, too. Skips, twirls, hops, and arms held high.
That delight percolated to the surface and spilled out in giggles while one little girl squirted colorful dye onto a twisted t-shirt. One young boy simply danced while chasing bubbles as they lifted on a breeze. Others crouched, mesmerized, while seeing bright light bleach pink paper where a sun-print stencil had blocked the spray of sunscreen.
Each day, August 9-16, visitors were invited to stop by anytime during regular Museum hours to try a different art-making activity – garden sculpture, sun prints, tie-dye, bubble blowing and bubble prints, kite-making, a graffiti wall, and a movement tour of sculptures throughout the Museum grounds. More than 1,000 attended Family Fest throughout the week.
The seven-day festival culminated last evening with a family yoga class, offered free of charge by River Flow Yoga, and a family concert that drew more than 300 people to the Museum’s sculpture garden on a glorious late-summer evening. Glen Everhart’s parodies and musical fun had families’ toes tapping and hands clapping to this musician’s sing-along tunes.
Museum staff began planning for Family Fest last fall, long before the national initiative Let’s Move! Museums & Gardens was announced by First Lady Michelle Obama and the Institute of Museum and Library Services earlier this spring. But the effort – now 400+ museums strong – to promote healthy food choices and physical activity through interactive programs has been a natural fit for the Woodson Art Museum’s Family Fest and many other programs offered throughout the year for all ages.
Families are encouraged to practice healthy habits together through hands-on art-making activities in a range of monthly Museum programs – from Art Babies and Toddler Tuesday through Art Beyond Sight for those with blindness and vision impairments and SPARK! for individuals with memory loss and their care partners.
This summer’s first Family Fest may be over, but the spirit of the festival and national initiative live on throughout all of the many Museum programs that encourage visitors to let art move them – both through the process of making art and through enjoying artwork on view.
The sculpture garden movement tour lives on, as well. Both you and the children you bring to the Museum can check out an audio tour kit at the greeter desk and, with map in hand and a headset to guide you, embark on a tour called Let Art Move You.
The kit includes a pedometer to help you count steps and even calories as you make your way throughout the grounds. The audio tour includes soothing narration that offers insights about the artwork and the animals depicted, open-ended questions to ponder and music to encourage you to let go with a bit of physical expression.
The tour encourages visitors to dance or slink like a stealthy cat while enroute to some of the sculptures. With children along for the tour, adults can shed a few grown-up inhibitions and just have fun.
Stop by the Museum often to be a kid again, and let art move you, too.

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