New York City is home to scores of art museums and exhibits for kids and adults alike. While we as parents do our best to expose our kids to culture and the arts, sometimes it takes a professional touch so kids actually enjoy it. Help is on the way!; read on to hear about your new savvy art assist.
photo: Hard Seat Sleeper via Flickr
Explore Art With a Personal Guide
Want a personal, (and personalized) kid-friendly guide to one of New York’s cultural heavy-hitters? Nadja Hansen, a Native New Yorker and authority on all things art history, provides personalized museum tours for groups and families. (When she’s not engaging kids and their parents with artistic tours, she teaches for The Metropolitan Museum of Art-Cloisters, the Morgan Library and Museum, The Guggenheim, and the Hispanic Society.)
photo: Josh Staiger via Flickr
Pick Your Place, Pace and Theme
Hansen has developed numerous tour themes which include “Time Travel”, “American Life”, “The Greatest Stories in Art”, all of which are conducted at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. You can also check out “Dreams, Colors and Whimsy” at the Guggenheim; “Life in Old New York” at the NY Historical Society, and “Colors Shapes, Patterns, Textures” at the MoMA, among many others.
She’s particularly partial to The Met for tours that engage kids. “I love [conducting] tours of the Met. Kids get absolutely awed by the spaces. I try to contextualize how old these objects are in a way that they can really grasp, because kids have a very vague sense of time and I love when I see it dawning on them how ancient something is,” she says. “I get them thinking about how different the world was in the past, and I tell them stories and try to bring that time to life with music or scents or images or stories so that the objects become activated for them.”
photo: James W. via Yelp
Create Your Own Art Adventure
Parents are also welcome to help customize a tour based on a child’s proclivities. “I have some parents that develop a whole program with me, so that each month we look at something different,” says Hansen. “I am very much about tailoring a tour to kids’ interests. [People] don’t have to pick one of the pre-planned themes, parents can say, ‘My son loves Egypt and my daughter loves statues,’ and I will design something special around that. Or older kids may want to look at modern art, and younger kids like myths, so I will take them on a tour of modern art that deals with mythology or the cosmos, or we will divide the time between Modern and Greece. I want families to really have a very personalized experience.”
Get Up Close and Cultured
Hansen’s rates start at $250 for a 90-minute tour; prices are for groups of three to 10 people. For more info email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nadja Hansen Great Art Explorations
photo: Emily Sachar
Get to the Heart of the Art
Another option for curating your museum tour experience is Heart of the Art NYC. This cultural concierge service offers customizable tours of all kinds; groups can choose the time, theme, and pace of the tour. Tours can also include parts of museums that are not generally open to the public. Choose from museum highlights to in-depth collections, special exhibitions to a list of personal favorites.
Emily Sachar, the founder and guide on all of the tours, is an art historian, educator, public speaker, and party planner. Sachar is also known for her witty scavenger hunts, which you can incorporate into your tour or plan separately as a special event or birthday party.
Sachar’s tours are available at The Met, the Brooklyn Museum and the Queens Museum, and can be booked for kids, families, or other events. Parties last 90 minutes to two hours; party favors, post-party website with photos and other extras are available for a small extra charge.
The Fine Art Fine Print
Kid parties (recommended for nine years of age and up) are $600 for 10 children and include play for two teams with two adult leaders; for 11-20 players the rate is $700, for four teams with four adult leaders. (Prices include museum admission for all participants.) Extras (party favors, memory book, party Web site) are available for an extra charge.
How do you do NYC art with the kids? Let us know in the comments below!
— Bethany Quinn