I’d love to come up with a top ten, but five’s about all I can manage. Here’s my list:
1. Free Admission — So much of the stress of visiting museums vanishes when we get in free. It doesn’t matter how long we stay, or if we visit an exhibition for the third time and ignore everything else. Its okay if we just walk through the galleries on the way to caffeine and a cookie. Some museums are free all the time; others are free just certain days or times; memberships get you in free any time. We just (finally) renewed our Walker membership: it is a bunch to pay up front, but it is worth it for visits unencumbered by the price of a ticket.
2. Oudry’s Painted Menagerie exhibition at the Getty Center, Los Angeles – This exhibition was an obvious one for kids — life-size paintings of snarling leopards, growling hyenas, and, the star of the show, Clara the rhinoceros. Yes, the animal paintings were great, but it was also nice to see Oudry’s sketches. Some were unfinished, some were not so great, and it was a opportunity to show O. that even the artist who made these beautiful paintings had to try and try again.
3. Not Making Everything Completely Obvious — Stuff in museum exhibitions is there to be seen, but it can be nice to have experiences with things that aren’t so obvious. At the museum at the La Brea Tar Pits, Oskar was wowed by the models of ancient creatures, but he was also mesmerized by a little box of tiny bones (of mice?) on display in a visible work area of the museum. They looked like crumbs or specks of dirt, with just a little card identifying them. It was like making a discovery. See also: Tino Sehgal’s work currently at the Walker.
4. Jaques Tati – Mon Oncle (1958) – This is such a sweet, funny film. It is also beautifully shot and visually clever. I’ve watched it many times, and we finally watched with our 5-year-old and he loved it. The visual humor was perfect for him — and he still mentions the kitchen scene every once in a while.
5. Meat for Breakfast??!!?? – Picasso & American Art was the sleeper hit with the kids this year. I thought it would be strictly a quick walk-through when we took O., but there was a bunch there he liked. In particular, O. thought the Tom Wesselmann Still Life #30 was awesome. Those bottles look REAL! The artist used a REAL refrigerator door! Some parts are painted and some are pictures! And, perhaps the biggest surprise of all: meat with cereal. Who would ever have meat with breakfast? Crazy. Image from MOMA.