Most of our summer outings have been picked by the kids. Tuesday it was my choice. The Art Institute currently has a Roy Lichtenstein exhibit that I wanted to see. It's a retrospective exhibit and is the biggest exhibit of his works since the 90s and that was in New York.
I've always liked his art, mostly because it's fun. I have no art history/appreciation background. I just know what speaks to me and what I like. As I've said before my daughters have an amazing art teacher at school so are already familiar with Van Gogh, Monet, Seurat, Mondrian (and they are only in 1st and 3rd grade). While Lichtenstein is definitely a different style than those, it is very kid friendly.
We got to the Museum and just as we entered the Modern Wing, a guy came up to me and asked if we needed tickets as he had some comps he didn't need. The kids were already free (14 and under are free), but I gladly accepted his pass and got in free :) I was expecting to need to pay extra for the special exhibit or get an assigned ticket time but that wasn't necessary.
Many people wouldn't take young kids to an art museum, but I've figured out how to make it work for our family. First off, you have to have a strategy. For me it's alternating between what you want and what they will enjoy. In our case -Thorne Rooms, lunch, Lichtenstein exhibit, play room, gift shop, home.
Little Reader loves the Thorne Rooms especially since she read the Sixty Eight Rooms books. They all love looking at all the details and the rooms and finding new things they may not have noticed last time. Although they have a step running along the base of the exhibit to help give kids a better view, Little Man is still a little short so I had to pick him up for every room. My back was relieved when the kids had seen enough here.
The Lichtenstein exhibit was really impressive. It was a true retrospective arranged chronologically with themed rooms of his different works.
The first work you see is Mickey and Domald (obviously recognizable characters for my kids). The thing that I thought was cool, and the kids appreciated as well was that if you get close to the painting you can see the sketch marks where he outlined the work before painting. Some lines were painted over, but many were not.
The kids didn't really understand the point of the pop art paintings inspired by advertisements of the time, so we went pretty quickly through that part. Next was the War and Romance period. These were the ones I was most familiar with - the comic strip looking ones. My daughters liked coming up with back stories for the women, and Little
Man liked the fighter jets. They also liked how even though the
women's faces looked peach once you got close you could see it was
purposeful spacing of red dots that gave that illusion. There were other works that created optical illusions they also enjoyed.
As we moved on we got to works that were new to me and I liked to see his interpretations of Cubism, Impressionism etc. Some of the works, my kids easily recognized, others once I gave them a hint, they got it.
The new works (or at least new to me) I liked the most were the ones were his interpretation of Asian art. The pictures really don't do them justice.
After the exhibit we went to the playroom for about 45 minutes before heading home. As part of the addition of the model. Wing, the Art Institute opened the Ryan Family Center. My kids call it the play area. It's basically a place for kids to play with art influenced things, and get the wiggles out after hopefully having been on their best behavior inside the exhibit halls. There are sofas and benches for climbing, tons of books, puzzles, blocks, computers with art themed games, etc. They used to also have a craft in a separate room but that hadn't been open the past couple of times we've visited (maybe weekend only).
Of course when bringing kids to an art museum I don't always get to
linger or read the posted information as much as I'd like, but we still
all enjoyed the exhibit, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys
Lichtenstein or wants to learn more about him. I was pleasantly
surprised to discover so many new works beyond just the Pop art and War
and Romance I was pretty familiar with. The exhibit only runs for a couple more weeks (until September 3rd)