This week, I had the pleasure of taking Jacob, my 15-year old stepson, to an art museum for the first time. I live near San Antonio and recently saw a billboard for a French Impressionism exhibit that was currently on display at the McNay Art Museum and I knew I wanted to go before it was over. When I did some research, I saw that there was an a Paul Klee exhibit going on until this Sunday, and with only a few days left to catch it, we made the very spontaneous decision to go check it out on Thursday evening.
On the drive there, I asked Jacob if he had ever been to an art museum. No, he told me. Not gonna lie, I was a little sad to hear this, since I basically grew up in an art gallery with all the art my dad surrounded us with. Dad is an artist. He is talented with a paintbrush, but just like an athlete who can pick up any sport or a musician that can pick up and learn any instrument, my dad is the kind of artist who finds treasure in trash and he creates things everywhere he goes. He paints, he sculpts, he writes, he works with wood and metal, he builds…I’m quite certain there’s nothing in the creative realm my dad CAN’T do. That being said, knowing my stepson had never been to an art museum broke my artist heart a little. Since this was a new experience for him, I felt I needed to teach him some things about being in an art museum and how to appreciate the experience, so here’s some first-timer tips for you.
- Appreciate the architecture. Your art museum experience begins long before you step foot in the door. Most art museums are a work of art themselves. Make sure you take time to appreciate the home where the art you’re seeing lives.
- Know about free and discount days. Before leaving home on Thursday, I knew that teen admission was free but it was going to cost me 20 large to get in. Turns out, Thursday evening from 4-9 is sponsored by HEB, so I only paid $10 to get into the special Impressionism exhibit. Maximize your museum dollars by going at these times! Plus, the museum will typically have more staff present on those days if you have any questions.
- Find your favorites. The mistake I made the first time I went to an art museum was feeling like I had to love every piece. Boy was I wrong! I love all art, but I definitely have my favorites. I encouraged Jacob to find the types or art and the styles he liked instead of making him sit through the areas of the museum that made him want to fall asleep standing up. But once you find your favorites…
- Research! Learn about your favorite artists and their work. Read about their inspirations and the time period when the work was created. When I attended a Kandinsky exhibit several years ago, I wasn’t crazy about some of his sketches until I learned that he did those sketches during WWII when there was no access to art supplies and materials. It made me appreciate those sketches and his talent even more.
- Get inspired. After walking through an art museum, many people feel energized, excited and inspired. Don’t let that creative energy get away. Go home and create something! Paint, draw, cook, write, knit, color…it doesn’t matter what you do. Just make something.
- Support your local museums. Last, but not least, show your museum some love by making a donation, especially if you are attending on a free or discount day. Many small museums area running on fewer staff members and donations than they used to, so if you liked the museum and enjoyed your experience, show them some love. This includes sharing positive reviews on social media and encouraging friends to go too. Museums will only stay open as long as we support them, so everyone has to do their part if they want to continue enjoying its benefits.
- Did I forget to mention their incredible Beauty and the Beast-esque library? Because…goals.
When was the last time you attended an art museum? Come join my VIP Group and tell us where you went!