Seeing fine art in person can be an interesting experience for both children and adults, whether you consider yourself traditionally “artistic” or not. Paintings and sculpture can be admired from a strict aesthetic perspective, as a historical artifact, or as a window into a different culture. You might be attracted to (or repelled by) a piece of artwork’s overall color, style and/or mood. You might be interested to see the individual brushstrokes (or “dots” in pointillism https://www.crayola.com/lesson-plans/detail/pointillism-lesson-plan ) or sculptural details up close. Perhaps you might just be amazed by the size and scope of a painting like Gainsborough’s The Blue Boy (http://gardenofpraise.com/art39.htm ). If you have never been, or if it has been a while, why not plan a visit to a museum near you (or one at a vacation destination) this summer?
Here in southern California, we are fortunate to have a large number of very fine art collections within just a few hours’ drive; but chances are, great art is accessible not too far from where you are, as well. Some museum collections specialize in one genre and/or time period; others display a wide variety of types/eras of art. Many also host short-term travelling exhibits. Here are just a few examples:
The Huntington Library, San Marino, California: http://www.huntington.org/huntingtonlibrary.aspx?id=202&linkidentifier=id&itemid=202
The Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Cody, Wyoming: http://www.bbhc.org/westernart/exhibits/
The Paine Art Center and Gardens, Oshkosh, Wisconsin: http://www.thepaine.org/
The Museum of Fine Arts—Houston, Houston, Texas: http://www.mfah.org/exhibitions/
The Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia, South Carolina: http://www.columbiamuseum.org/art/collection?ss=kress
The Davistown Museum/Maine Artists’ Guild, Liberty, Maine: http://www.davistownmuseum.org/MAG/MAGhome.html
Find an art museum in your area through your yellow pages or at the ArtCyclopedia: http://www.artcyclopedia.com/museums-us.html
If you are planning far ahead, Smithsonian Magazine sponsors a yearly “Free Museum Day” event, nationwide. This year it will be on September 24. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/museumday/ For listings of other free days at museums all around the United States, visit these helpful websites: http://www.freemuseumday.org/cities.html and http://museumfreedays.com/ This site includes Canada and some European countries as well: http://freemuseumday.com/ Some museums always offer free admission; others have a day each week/month. These days, when every penny counts for many of us, it might be worth planning ahead to visit on a free/discounted day.
You can get into the mood for your museum visit —or do some “armchair touring” on your computer– by checking out the art portion of Marjorie Kiel Persons’ “Oh, How I Love Italy” lesson plan (http://www.amonco.org/summer4/montessori_summer4.pdf and Birdcage Press’s artist biographies (http://www.amonco.org/summer5/montessori_summer5.pdf
To do more research on other fine artists and their works from your computer, by visiting http://www.artcyclopedia.com You can search by artist, artwork title or museum collection. Many of the museum links have excellent zoom-viewing features, so you can see more details than you might expect.
After you view and/or learn about the works of the masters, get your own creative juices flowing with a wide variety of trusted brand name art supplies at discount prices from All Art Supplies. http://www.allartsupplies.com
Then use the detailed suggestions in “Teacher as Curator” from Rae at Creative Process to set up your own art gallery or museum. She gives interesting ideas on theme, location, artwork resources, and even ideas for a party with a related theme! http://www.amonco.org/summer4/montessori_summer4.pdf
You may bring out the undiscovered artist – or art critic – in yourself and/or your students.