Looking for a little creative inspiration this summer? Add some hands-on art to your must-do list with these museum classes that encourage the little ones to let their creative juices flow. Many are free and you don’t even have to make reservations in advance (because, let’s be frank, that’s a little ambitious for the summer). Best of all, you’ll avoid having to be on clean-up duty! So, get out there and get your art on!
Doing and Viewing Art at the de Young, San Francisco
The de Young has always been a hot spot for families who love to enjoy and make art together. This summer, in conjunction with their Summer of Love exhibit, you can join in the family art making program and express your own personal style through art, music and fashion. Coming this fall are four new programs for families and kids so check their website for more info later this summer.
Golden Gate Park
50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr.
San Francisco, Ca
Hours: Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. through August 10. New schedule starting in the fall.
Cost: Adults/$15; Children 17 & under/FREE
MakeArt at the Museum of Craft and Design, San Francisco
These monthly workshops for kids aged 6-12, which focus exploring a variety of crafts, are offered both in the museum's Make Art lab and at various neighborhood libraries. Classes held at the museum usually include a kid-friendly museum tour, a healthy snack, and a hands-on art making activity. Upcoming workshops include Psychedelic Scarves and STEAM CD Tops and Toys.
Art Lab at the Bay Area Discovery Museum, Sausalito
You can make art every day of the week at the Bay Area Discovery Museum. The Art Project is available all day for anyone to stop by and get inspired with a project that changes every two weeks. Artists ages 3-8 will love Art Lab where they get to explore various techniques and mediums. In the Artist Spotlight, kids ages 5-10 will explore a specific artistic technique through a project inspired by a professional artist. Inspirational, indeed!
557 McReynolds Rd.
Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily
Cost: General/$14.95; Babies (6-12mos)/$13.95. FREE admission the first Wednesday of every month
Art Pushcart and Drop-in Art Studio at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco
Sunday is the day to make a stop at the CJM for some hands-on art making for all ages. On the first and second Sundays of the month, make some art like tiny sofas and tchotchkes inspired by the interiors in the cartoons of Roz Chast, on exhibit through September 3. If you are there one of the other Sundays of the month, look for the roving Art Pushcart that’s full of games, materials and questions meant to inspire visitors.
736 Mission St.
San Francisco, Ca
Hours: Sundays, 11 a.m.–3 p.m.
Cost: Adults/$14; Children 18 and under/FREE
Family Fun Day at the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco
Leave the country without ever having to take BART to the airport! Every first and third Sunday, immerse yourself in Asian art and culture as you make origami flowers and more. Start the morning with a family-friendly tour of the museum and then get down to business making your own creations. Family Fun Day wraps up with storytelling from 1-1:45 p.m.
200 Larkin St.
San Francisco, Ca
Hours: Every 1st and 3rd Sunday, 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
Cost: General Admission/$15; Youth (13-17)/$10; Children 12 & under/FREE
For Art Lovers
Foster a love of art and give the gift of a visit to a local art museum. Many offer special kids programs or, better yet, are designed just for kids!
The Museum of Children's Arts in Oakland has been bringing the creative arts to East Bay kids for over 27 years. Your mini Monet will love their weekday drop-in art program where they can explore the season's theme using many different mediums. Or make art with the whole family when the third Saturday of each month brings a new activity like dragon puppets and mask making.
Bring you crew to visit Golden Gate Park's de Young Museum where they offer Toddler Tours on certain Thursdays throughout the year. Kids 18-36 months will learn about one or two works of art and then engage in art making in the studio space afterwards. Their two-part Saturday Studio program allows kids ages 6-9 to investigate materials, practice art making and share discoveries with their peers. After visiting the museum, spend some time at the nearby Japanese Tea Garden.
Second Sundays at Stanford’s Cantor Arts Center, Palo Alto
When you have one of the world’s most prestigious universities in your backyard, you play in your backyard! Your whole family will enjoy tours, hands-on art projects, independent sketching and special programs such as storytelling, book readings, and movie screenings. Bonus perk: Wednesday through Sunday you can sign out an art pack from the main lobby front desk. Stocked with colored pencils and sketching paper, you can encourage your Baby Buonarroti to create amongst the greats.
328 Lomita Drive at Museum Way
Hours: Second Sundays, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Exploring Art for Children at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, San Francisco
Explore traditional Latino art and techniques every Saturday using textiles such as clay, flour, paints and paper cuts. Think paper mache and those big, bright, beautiful paper flowers we see all over the place during Dia de los Muertos, and so much more!
2868 Mission St.
Hours: Every Saturday 10 a.m.-11 a.m.
Meet at the Richmond Library to walk as a group over to the art gallery to enjoy the latest exhibit. Take a guided family tour of the art gallery then get busy making a related hands-on art project.
2540 Barrett Ave.
Hours: Last Saturday of each month, 1-3 p.m.
Art Studio at Habitot Children's Museum, Berkeley
Drop in anytime during museum hours for an art explosion here at Habitot. The focus here is on the process, not the end product, and nowhere is that more evident than on your child's paint-speckled clothes and smiling faces. Choose from one of three basic art stations: the Paintable Wall (think ginormous art canvas), Clay Play (think GAK and scissors), and Mixed Media (think coffee filters and glitter). Don't fret over the inevitable mess, as aprons - and clean-up - are provided!
2065 Kittredge St.
Hours: Mon.-Thu., 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 9:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. (Sun. parties only.) Hours change seasonally, please check website for changes
Cost: Mon.-Thu. $10, Fri.-Sun. $12. Infants under 1/FREE
Art Loft at Children's Discovery Museum, San Jose
Stop in anytime during museum hours to take advantage of the wonderful array of materials from which to create your own unique piece of art. And, even though you'll walk away with something at the very least interesting, end product isn't the goal here- it's all the mess, creativity and learning that happens along the way! Art projects offered include, but aren't limited to, sculpture, printmaking, painting, drawing and collage.
180 Woz Way
San Jose, Ca
Hours: Tues.-Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun, 12-5 p.m.
Cost: General/$15; Kids under 1/FREE
Saturday Drop-Ins at The Randall Museum, San Francisco
Design, craft then play with your very own yo-yo or top, turn a simple game of connect-the-dots into a layered oil pastel painting, make wallets, medicine bags…even mix and make your own paint! Yes. We are talking about the Randall Museum—the one with all the cute animals! Catch all of these excitingly artful opportunities at Afternoon Art Saturdays. Register at the front desk when you arrive.
Temporary location while museum is under construction: 745 Treat Ave.
Hours: Saturdays, 1-4 p.m.
Cost: $5 toddler/adult combo, $3/each additional person
DIY Art at the San Jose Museum of Art
The second Sunday of the summer months hosts the DIY Art program where artists of all age are welcome to join in some group sketching. Take inspiration from the exhibitions on display or express yourself with your own creation. Music will be played to get you in the mood to create.
110 South Market Street
San Jose, Ca
Hours: Tues.-Sun., 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Cost: Adults/$10, Kids 7-17/$5. Ages 6 and under FREE
Where do you go to express yourself through art? Let us know in the comments!
—Kate Loweth & Heather Rodgers