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Take the Kids to the de Young Museum of Art

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The de Young Museum of Art in San Francisco houses over 25,000 works of art, but most kids will only appreciate a few of these during their visit. That’s fine. It doesn’t take a lot to foster a love of art.

I’ve been taking my son to the de Young since it reopened in its new building in 2005, and we have found new reasons to enjoy our visit each time.

The Works of Art

There are eight major galleries in the museum; housing works of art ranging from Mesoamerican ceramics to Contemporary American art. In other words, there are plenty of opportunities for kids to find a piece they like. Sometimes my son gravitates towards the masks in the Art of Africa gallery, while other times he is drawn to the Superman painting in the modern art wing. You can rent the family audio tours, or just view the art at your own pace.

The Osher Sculpture Garden

Who says that you have to be inside the museum to appreciate art? When he was five years old, my son loved to run around the apples in the sculpture garden and eat cookies at the cafe tables outside. Heck, you wouldn’t even have to pay admission if you just wanted to stroll through the sculpture garden. There will, however, be an additional cost for bribery through cookies.

The Observation Tower

Even if your child isn’t inspired by the works of art, he may be taken in by the views of Golden Gate Park and San Francisco from the observation deck in the North Tower. This is my son’s favorite part of the museum. He comes for the views, while I sneak in some art. There’s no rule for how to get kids to like art museums. Again, there is no admission cost for anyone to take an elevator ride up to the tower.

When You Go

When visiting art museums with kids, it’s always a good idea to go at their pace. Luckily, you won’t feel so bad that you only see half the museum, since the admission is free for children under the age of 12.

The museum hosts special family art programs on Saturdays. Check website for more information. On Friday nights, the museum is open until 8:45 and has some art-making activities for all ages.


Kids Love The Getty Museum of Art

img_0722_1There are only two reasons my son will get into the car for the six-hour drive to Los Angeles: 1. Disneyland, 2. The Getty Museum of Art. That’s right, my son loves an art museum as much as he does Mickey-shaped ice cream. So maybe he’s not your typical kid, but I think his love of the Getty has a lot to do with how this art museum gives families the red carpet treatment.

Here’s why your kids may grow to love The Getty as well:

  1. There is a ride. To get up to the museum, you can choose to walk or ride the Getty Tram. I’m guessing that most kids (and tired parents) will prefer to ride up. Plus, you can convince your kids it’s almost like Disneyland.
  2. There is a room just for them. The Family Room is housed in it’s own small building, and is obviously the most kid-friendly place in the museum. This room looks more like a discovery museum than an art gallery. It has at least five hands-on activity areas, where kids can make a mask, play with mirrors, look through “art” peep holes, and decorate an illuminated wall with their own manuscript designs. My son’s favorite area was the tube sculpture cove. He spent almost half an hour trying to make the perfect sculpture, but realized he had to share his sculpting space with other kids who didn’t necessarily share his vision. In the end, he did get a bit of uninterrupted play time to finish his sculpture. Because this room has limited capacity, we had to wait about 15 minutes to get inside. It was definitely worth the wait though. tube sculptures
  3. They will find engaging art galleries. The summer we went, they had a special exhibit about science and women, with paintings of flowers and insects. Inside the special exhibit, there was an area for kids to color their own flower prints. There was also Art Detective cards available, with clues that kids had to look for in the paintings. These cards are great because they provide kids with a way to actively engage with the art, and parents don’t have to come up with the activities themselves. You can use  Art Detective cards for other areas of the museum-pick one up outside the Family Room.
  4. They can roam the gardens. Art can be appreciated outdoors as well. Kids like to check out the garden paths and the sculptures of the Central Garden. Parents will appreciate that they won’t have to keep tiny hands away from any valuable art. Oh, and did I mention you can catch some of the best views of Los Angeles? The grounds, architecture, and scenic location of this museum are what make it such an unique experience.sculpture at the getty
  5. So many activities, so little time. There’s so much for families to do at the Getty, that we didn’t get a chance to try it all out. I would have liked to try the Family Art Stop to get a “hands-on gallery experience with a single work of art”. The workshop is free, but you do have to sign-up at the Information Center. Check their website for days and times, depending on the season you’re visiting. If you like to do the audio tours, there is one available just for families. You can rent the GettyGuide audio player at the museum’s entrance hall for five dollars.

I love the The Getty Museum of Art for all of these reasons and for the fact that admission is free. You will need to pay $10 dollars to park your car. The cafe has plenty of kid-approved food, and a beautiful outdoor eating area to enjoy some of that southern California sun. You are allowed to bring your own picnic to eat on the lawn next to the Central Garden, or any of the public seating areas.


Family Travel Tips
Los Angeles