As a New York parent, you know you should be taking advantage of the world-class museums in the city to help your child gain some art appreciation. But it can be hard to know exactly how to do that. One option: leave it to the professionals. “Little Guggs”, a new art exploration class for kids ages two to four, is up and running at the Guggenheim Museum.

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photo: Tanya Ahmed

Tested — and Approved!
We know: Really? For toddlers? Yes! In fact, the class grew out the museum’s popular Stroller Tours program, which invites caregivers and/with babies to take in parts of the museum’s collection. Previous Stroller Tour participants (whose kids were now older) were asked to be involved in a “Little Guggs” pilot program, designed to address a gap in the museum’s education and family offerings. It was a grand success, and a fully-realized version of the program rolled out this month.

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photo: Tanya Ahmed

A Look at Little Gugg
Here’s what participants can expect: The toddler and parent or caretaker meet in the museum lobby, where they learn about the theme of the day. The educator then takes the class to one or two works of art currently on display at the museum, and, as what we’re sure is an adorable little group, they all discuss what they notice about the artwork. This is followed by an interactive activity at the work of art, such as a color hunt, making a sculpture with blocks, or a line drawing with Wiki Sticks.

“The gallery portion is 20 to 25 minutes,” explains Alyson Luck, Manager, School, Youth, & Family Programs, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. “Then the group heads down to our studio to work on a work of art that is connected to the theme. “

Adds Luck: “We like to use materials that the kids may not be able to use at home like paint, slick stick crayons, and printing materials. Finally, the last five minutes are about reflection and sharing their work.”

All of that art appreciating and making will work up an appetite; a light snack is also provided as part of the class.

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photo: Tanya Ahmed

The Building Blocks of Art 
The classes understandably tackle the very basics of art. Recently, the theme of the day was “Shapes”. The toddlers “discussed” artworks by artist Maholy-Nagy and read the book, Look! By Kyra Teis. In the art studio, the kids explored shapes and experimented with overlapping different shapes and colors to create works of art.

In the session dedicated to the theme of “Lines”, the group considered Joan Miró’s, Prades, the Village (1917) and read the book, Lines that Wiggle by Candace Whitman. The kids used wiki sticks to make different kinds of lines and discovered lines in paintings nearby. In the art studio, the toddlers made line collages and a huge mural using slick stick crayons and dot markers.

Lest you be concerned that your three-year-old’s focus may wander, Luck is confident in the program’s ability to keep kids interested. “Our educators are very engaging,” she says. “They highlight multi-sensory experiences when exposing the toddlers to the works of art. We keep the time in the galleries very limited so that they have time in the studio and we also understand that developmentally, they do not have long attention spans.”

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Gugg a Little or A Lot
Little Guggs is offered for caregivers and kids ages two to four and is held on Wednesdays from 11 a.m. – Noon. (Classes can be taken individually or as an ongoing series.) It’s open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis, with a fee of $30 per class for non-members, and $15 for members. If you are a Guggenheim Family Member, the classes are free!

Little Guggs
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
1071 5th Ave.
Upper East Side
212-423-3575
Online: guggenheim.org

Has your child taken a Little Guggs class? Tell us in the comments below! 

— Rachel Sokol