Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Art Institute

On Good Friday I took the kids to the Art Institute. My daughter recently finished reading the Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone.  It's a book about kids who find a special passage that takes them inside the Thorne Miniature Rooms at the Art Institute.  She loved the book as it was very similar in style to the Magic Tree House series that she recently completed.  She was a little disappointed to learn that currently there is only one other book from the series currently in print. Hopefully I can find other similar series to keep her interested while until more of these books come out. 

Each room is from a different time period and location (mostly American and Western Europe) with amazing details.  The exhibit is relatively kid friendly as the have a special step all along the exhibit room, so kids can stand up and peer in to the rooms.  My little guy had trouble seeing but I picked him up so he could look into the rooms as well.  His sisters spent a lot more time studying the details.  The details of the rooms really are amazing, and while there are no people in the rooms, you can almost imagine real people living in them.

After the Thorne Rooms we headed up to the Impressionist as my younger daughter wanted to see Seurat's La Grande Jatte - arguably one of the Art Institute's most famous works.  I've always loved this painting too, as I feel like every time I see it I discover something new (sometimes from eavesdropping on conversations of other people admiring it).  There are a couple of small studies in the same room that Seurat painted in preparation for the main piece and we had fun playing a version of can you find the differences?

After exploring some more we came across this painting.  It's called Fisherman's Cottage and was painted by a Norwegian artist named Harald Sohlberg.  I had never noticed it before, but for some reason this time it caught my eye.  I think it was mostly the light coming through the trees, similar to the photos I've been taking recently. It just looks so peaceful.  The picture I've posted really doesn't do it justice as photos of paintings with good lighting rarely do, but this one from the Art Institute website is certainly better than the one I took with my phone :)

At this point the kids were getting a bit antsy, so we went to the Family Room to play for a while before heading home.  We were there for about an hour putting together puzzles, reading books, building with blocks and playing some of the interactive art games on the computer.  Unfortunately there was no free craft to do that day (I think that may only be on weekends), but the kids didn't seem to notice.

All in all a good day.  I remember as a kid, my Mom often took my sister and I to some of the many wonderful art museums in and around New York.  At the time, I know we complained a lot, but over time we both developed an appreciation for art (and my sister ended up minoring in Art in college).  While I have never really studied art and don't have a real grasp of the different styles and who influenced who, I can still appreciate beauty and am trying to impart that on my children.  It helps that at the Art Institute admission for children is free and the recently opened Family Room gives them a place to get the wiggles out before/after an excursion of "Don't Touch".

I noticed that there is a Roy Lichtenstein exhibit coming in the summer, so want to head back downtown for that.  Taking the kids to temporary exhibits is always a little tougher as they tend to be more crowded, but I think they'll enjoy his style, and since most of his paintings are big, they'll still be able to see even if there are a ton of people..

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