When it comes to museums, the National Gallery of Art isn’t exactly a go-to venue for our family. Besides a near disaster there a couple of years ago (think unwitting child almost putting his hand through a canvas), my kids, like many kids, prefer big, interactive exhibits over works of art hanging on walls.
Unless the art is presented to them in a cool way, as the National Gallery does in its free drop-in programs. Over several weekends during winter and summer, the NGA invites kids to explore art through a variety of classes designed for young museum-goers. And the next winter session starts this Saturday, January 15, with several workshops for kids to enjoy well into March.
Stories in Art introduces kids ages 4-7 to art through storytelling, discussion, and a hands-on art project (read a review here). This winter, guests will investigate modern and contemporary art as three thoughtful stories are paired with three artists in the NGA collection (Henri Matisse, Georgia O’Keefe, and Helen Frankenthaler). After examining how nature inspired each artist, guests will experiment with diverse media to create their own works of art. The hour-long classes are free, and no registration is required, but there is a limit to the number of children in each class. Sign-in will take place in the East Building Atrium, beginning at 11am on Sundays, and will continue until all spaces are filled in each of the four time slots. Visit the website for dates, times, and more details about each class.
Artful Conversations, recommended for ages 8-11, is designed for children and adults to participate in together. Led by museum educators, each program includes looking at one work of art in the galleries, accompanied by a poetry-writing activity. One-hour classes will take place on January 21, February 18, and March 10 at three different times each day. No registration or fees are required, and sign-in will take place in the East Building Atrium beginning at 10:00am and continue until all spaces are filled.
Family Workshops, recommended for ages 8-11, are also designed for children and adults to participate in together. Taught by artists and museum educators, each two-hour workshop includes an interactive tour in the galleries followed by a hands-on studio session. In this session, guests will investigate Edgar Degas’ wax sculptures of dancers and horses, and learn how to construct their own using a wire armature and clay. All workshops begin in the Education Studio, located on the East Building Concourse. Workshops are free, but registration is required. Registration begins at noon on January 11 — visit the website to sign up, and be aware that classes fill up fast!