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Unlock kids' love of art on these colorful trips – National Geographic Traveler Magazine



My daughter was a little over a year old when she first noticed a piece of art. On a family trip to the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, Massachusetts, my husband and I relished the woodland paths with elegant works by Paul Matisse and Andy Goldsworthy. Juniper the toddler, though, took a shine to a dripping, oozing fluorescent yellow blob by Aaron Curry called—rather aptly, I think—“Ugly Mess.” 

Juniper was transfixed, wandering around the steel sculpture for what seemed like hours. At first I felt impatient, but then I realized I was a witness to baby’s first appreciation of art. My daughter had an aha moment, which helped me see the piece with fresh eyes.

Sparking kids’ creativity and love for travel with art isn’t new. “From a very young age, children start looking extremely closely at the things around them with curiosity and attention,” says Olga Hubbard, a professor of arts education of the Teachers College at Columbia University. This makes museums and other cultural institutions focus on engaging the next generation of sculpture and painting fans with research-backed activities and challenging exhibits designed to appeal to developing brains.

These trips and tips can get your kids into art on your next vacation. They might ignite a renewed sense of wonder in the grown-ups as well. “Spaces like museums can invite adults to have the kind of attention that young children naturally have for the outside world,” says Hubbard.

Because kids naturally like to look—it’s just a matter of finding fresh things to see.

Step into a storybook 

The easiest way to introduce a child to an art museum might be through a familiar face, be it the googly eyed Very Hungry Caterpillar or a fairy tale villain. “Picture books are often a child’s first introduction to art,” says Courtney Waring, director of education at the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst, Massachusetts.

At the Carle, original works by the author/illustrator of Caterpillar are displayed along with revolving exhibits devoted to other kid-lit stars. Picture book pages are framed and hung on the walls, presented as priceless artifacts. Little ones can’t touch the originals, but they can paw through thousands of books in the nearby museum library.

(Is this Danish city the fairy tale capital of the world?)

“They immediately make connections between the art they see in books and the art they see in our galleries,” says Waring. Not only can this give children a deeper connection to their bookshelves at home, it also may encourage them to form “human connections across time and space,” says Hubbard.

Children see or sense that their favorite stories came from real people and places, and this goes beyond commercial attractions devoted to Harry Potter. In Kassel, Germany, where Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm gathered and published fairy tales in the 19th century, the contemporary museum Grimmwelt Kassel tells kids not only about classic stories (Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella), but also about the language and history they contain.

In a Buckinghamshire village north of London, England, the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre pays tribute to the late writer of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Fabulous Mr. Fox with exhibits and activities in his former home.

Museum professionals emphasize that provoking intense responses—a fit of giggles at a painting of a familiar Brothers Grimm fable, an awestruck gaze at a way-larger-than-life caterpillar cutout—can give parents insight into what kids intuitively find exciting, beautiful, or strange. Observe these moments, and later, at home, encourage your children to recall what made a big impression by revisiting the trip through photos or books.

Learn by playing around

The tactical, colorful aspects of art appeal to kids, often inspiring them to DIY their own masterpieces when they get home. Exploring their creativity helps children develop cognitively and physically.

Museums with please-touch exhibits and hands-on art projects “help kids make meaning,” says Sharon Shaffer, who served as the Director of the Smithsonian Institution’s Early Enrichment Center for 24 years. “Even if they don’t have the words, ask them questions to help further their thinking. Children see things that adults miss.”

(Check out the world’s most beautiful museums.)

At the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, children can whack helium-filled metallic balloons in the artist’s iconic “Floating Clouds” installation or learn rudimentary filmmaking techniques via the “Screen Test Machine.” Some galleries (e.g. the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, Ohio’s Dayton Art Institute) offer gallery guides and other tools for young patrons; as the pandemic ebbs, museums including the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., will again host drop-in art workshops for kids.

Parents can make museum trips more engaging for children by pre-picking artworks and even bringing small bag of props. “If you’re visiting a painting that shows a tightrope walker, put down a piece of string on the ground and let them try to imagine being high above a circus,” says Shaffer. If you’re not sure what’s on view that might appeal to children, ask at the front desk.

“Families shouldn’t feel shy about taking up space, making a bit of noise, and enjoying a visit on their terms,” says Grace Attlee, who runs educational programs at the kid-friendly House of Illustration in London, set to open in a new space in 2022. “Contrary to popular belief, most museums and galleries want little people in them.”

While it’s my impulse to direct my daughter’s attention towards pieces that enchant me, experts agree that parents shouldn’t try to control their kid’s museum visit. Ask them open and probing questions, but don’t demand answers. Says Shaffer, “Nobody likes a quiz. Interactions with art are all about quality, not quantity, something we can forget as adults.”

Think outside the gallery

Kids these days are digital natives, so they may be interested in seeing art on different terms. Exhibits that harness video and sound can provoke wonder in younger children.

Meow Wolf, an interactive art space in Santa Fe, New Mexico, ushers families into a music-, mystery-, and art-filled former bowling alley where they crawl through washing machines, dance on lights, and try to solve puzzles. The collective that founded it also has newer installations in Denver and Las Vegas.

(How art museums are adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic.)

The touring Van Gogh Immersive show uses virtual reality to turn the Impressionist painter’s wild colors and heavy brushstrokes into a trippy, high-tech extravaganza. Next year, cities including London and Washington, D.C., will host a similar video and virtual reality attraction, Mexican Geniuses, which recasts and reimagines the art of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.

These unconventional exhibits can reinforce the link in your kids brains between art and fun. “A lot of it is simply exposure,” says Shaffer. If your children aren’t around art, they can’t learn to enjoy it. “Whenever you go somewhere new, take advantage of what’s in the environment,” she says.

Appeal to their interests

Experts agree that playing to your child’s interests is another key to helping them enjoy art. My own kid loves the woods and mildly scary monsters. That’s why, this past summer, we ended up at the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden in Boothbay, with its rollicking display of large-scale wooden troll sculptures by Danish artist Thomas Dambo. “I make my art playful because I want it to speak to everybody,” he says. “I want to spread my message about taking care of nature.”

Dambo’s mediums—recycled wood and other “trash”—let him pack environmentalist ideas into delightful shapes. My toddler daughter isn’t old enough to get the point, though she did respond with joyful screams—and attempts to imitate the statues’ expressions—whenever she spotted a troll among the trees. In those moments, she was a dancer, an actor, and a patron of the arts.

It may be tempting to dismiss activities like troll hunting as child’s play, but Shaffer points out, these years of exploration are incredibly important. “Brain research has told us that 80 percent of the child’s personality, intellect, and skills develop in the first five years of life,” she says. “It’s the power of the brain to make sense of the world.”

Katy Kelleher is a Maine-based writer. Her work also appears in The Paris Review and Longreads. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter.


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Peter Lynch Gives More Than $20 Million In Rare Art To Boston College – Forbes



Legendary Fidelity investor Peter Lynch has given more than $20 million in art from his and his late wife Carolyn’s private collection to Boston College. The gift includes 27 paintings and three drawings, which will go to Boston College’s McMullen Museum of Art.

The donated art includes pieces by Pablo Picasso, Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt, Childe Hassam, Albert Bierstadt, Martin Johnson Heade, and Jack Butler Yeats.

In addition to the works of art, Lynch also gave a $5 million grant to support the ongoing curation and exhibition of what will be called the Carolyn A. and Peter S. Lynch Collection, making the total gift “one of the largest in University history,” according to a press release from the school.

Lynch, former manager of Fidelity’s Magellan fund and current vice chairman of Fidelity, graduated in 1965 from Boston College. He said in the release that he donated the art to inspire students and museum visitors.

“My hope is that this artwork, all of which my wife Carolyn and I collected during our 50 years together, will help students to develop a deeper understanding of art and its importance as a form of expression,” he said.

The collection features a diversity of painting styles. Among the notable pieces are Pablo Picasso’s drawing Head; Winslow Homer’s painting Grace Hoops; Mary Cassatt’s watercolor Mother and Child; John Singer Sargent’s painting Olive Trees, Corfu; and Jack Butler Yeats’s 1929 painting Farewell to Mayo, which the actor Sir Laurence Olivier gave Vivien Leigh as a wedding present.

Theodore E. Stebbins Jr., the consultative curator of American art at Harvard University’s Fogg Museum and the former curator of American paintings at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, called the collection “an extraordinary compilation of artwork.”

Nancy Netzer, the Robert L. and Judith T. Winston Director of the McMullen Museum, called the donation “a transformational gift for the McMullen Museum.” She said the museum would work with Boston College faculty and students and other art scholars to conduct new research on the artwork and share it widely with other audiences.

Lynch said that when he and Carolyn married, they did not have the money to buy fine art so the collection came later. “We cherished having this art in our homes, but it is now time to give it away so that it can be studied and enjoyed by others.”

“I know that the collection was sought after by other museums, but I wanted it to go to my alma mater, which dramatically improved my life, and where my father taught mathematics and physics, my wife proudly received an honorary degree in 2009, and my daughter Annie spent four wonderful and productive years,” he said.

The Lynches have a long history of supporting Boston College. In 1999, they gave more than $10 million to name the Carolyn A. and Peter S. Lynch School of Education and Human Development. In 2010, their gift of $20 million established The Lynch Leadership Academy, which trains and provides support for principals and aspiring principals in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

“I am an extremely lucky person who has been so blessed in life,” said Lynch. “Giving this collection to Boston College is a small way for me to give back.”

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Art honours gold mining past | The Star – Toronto Star



GOLDENVILLE – There may be less controversial traditions to commemorate, but for one St. Mary’s community, gold mining is not only a matter of local history; it’s in the town’s name. And now it’s recorded on canvas.

The Heritage Goldenville Society is marking the area’s past with a new water colour depiction of the area’s first mineral operation, circa 1860, by Sherbrooke artist Beverly Cameron, called Gold Mining Works at Goldenville.

According to the organization’s chair, Neil Black, proceeds from the sale of a limited number of prints will help support the society’s work to collect and preserve the community’s economic and social legacy. “Our whole source of revenue comes from bringing in donations at the door,” he said. “We have a nice little museum here with all sorts of interesting artifacts.”

Sherbrooke resident Cameron – who has exhibited her art in Fredericton, Saint John and Halifax – said she was happy to undertake the project after speaking with Black and other society members last year. “They offered to pay me, and I said I would be happy to make a donation,” she noted. “Gold on the Eastern Shore is part of our history.”

Between 1862 to 1941, production in the area reportedly topped 200,000 ounces, making Goldenville the unofficial gold capital of the province.

“Thousands of people actually lived and worked around here in those days,” Black said. “Folks spent their money in Sherbrooke, and you had teachers and church people arriving here [because of gold mining].”

Cameron said she had to undertake a bit of sleuthing to draw the picture accurately. “I just went and got a whole lot of different old pictures from the archives they [the Society] provided and put it together,” she explained. “I used line drawing and watercolor. So, what you’re seeing is me doing my very best to represent what it used to look like.”

Atlantic Gold, a subsidiary of Australian mining company St Barbara Ltd., hopes to build an open pit mine along the environmentally sensitive St. Mary’s River. The project has yet to undergo an environmental assessment, but opinions on both sides of the issue are running hot in the area. Despite this, however, Black says he hasn’t received any pushback from the community about the art fundraiser.

“There’s been absolutely none of that,” he stressed. “This was part of our history and it was economically good for the community at the time. And, of course, it was really before anybody had an understanding of environmental waste and damages.”

The society hopes to introduce a “non-invasive” gold panning program for residents and tourists this summer. “We won’t be using any chemicals. We’ll teach people how to pan for gold, and then offer a sourdough’s meal,” Black said. “People can go off and find history with their own hands.”

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10 Works of Art That Evaded the Algorithm This Year – The New York Times



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10 Works of Art That Evaded the Algorithm This Year  The New York Times

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