Worcester Art Museum with a Ten Year Old

When my son was just a little guy, I first took him to the Worcester Art Museum (that’s in Massachusetts, about a 45-min. drive west of us). We went there to find dogs. Dogs in paintings. Dogs on pottery. Sculptures of dogs. Dogs in tapestries. Just dogs … wherever we could find them.

Now, the great thing about taking this approach to a museum with a tot in tow is that he thoroughly enjoyed the experience — not a bit painful. I got to go to the museum, and I was NOT looking for doggies but stealing glances at Renaissance and Impressionist masterpieces. Plus, I got to be surprised by how many dogs have appeared in fine art through the ages, and my son got to eat in the cafeteria.

Another time, during first grade, I think, we played hookie from his school one day to go to the museum again. They had some sort of special mummy exhibit at the time, I think. In the gift store afterwards I bought him a pyramid-shaped book about ancient Egypt.

Until recently we hadn’t been back, though. So, just to shake things up a bit, we headed there over February vacation. Man, was it fun to go with my son, now ten years old! Though he still doesn’t have the stamina to look at the individual art pieces as long or hard as I’d like to myself, he listens well to my explanation and can offer a few insightful comments when pressed. I loved asking him what he thought of the modern abstract art. He held clear and rational opinions about various pieces, why he liked one and not another, what a piece made him feel and why. “That painting makes me happy. It looks like a carnival — see all those colors … like lights and prizes.” Very interesting.

The best of all, though, was the enormous mural hanging in the great entrance hall of the museum. This modern work is strange and compelling. I couldn’t help thinking over and over, what IS that made of? It looks like a great gob of green, wet, thick paint squiggled all over a canvass that had previously been scrawled with a crayon. Ah, but this description does not do the piece justice. It’s just too weird. You have to take a look: go to the Worcester Art Museum site and see for yourself!

The artist, Alexander Ross, created this 67 foot long “spectacle” out of clay, photography, drawing and inkjet especially for the space, and it’s a stunning contrast with the ancient Roman mosaic on the floor of this huge hall. I don’t know how much longer it will be there — the website says spring of 2008. If you are anywhere nearby, it’s well worth a trip, though.

My son kept coming back to it over the course of a couple of hours. “That is the coolest thing, Mom!” he exclaimed as we passed it the last time on our way to the car via the obligatory stop at ye olde Gift Shop.

“Even better than eating in the cafeteria…?” I winked.

“Yaaaaaahh. It’s ART!”

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8 Responses

  1. That sounds great and that Alexander Ross piece is really cool. We’ve taken our daughter to the art museum a few times and in fact they are heading there now. It’s not a big museum, though, so they will only be there for 1/2 hour or so. I think my daughter liked it because she got a bracelet in the gift shop 🙂

  2. Yeh, the gift shop goes a long way toward making a museum the coolest place ever.

  3. The wiggling forms of the Alexander Ross piece and your son’s delight reminded me of seeing a Gail Wagner http://gailwagner.com/ show years ago with my kids when they were little. It was the first art that really turned them on- much more so than my own painting! enormous crocheted biomorphic forms oozed from the floor and walls of the Arvada Center- they ran from one piece to the other with such excitement. Looking at art with kids is such fun.

  4. Wow! My son would love Gail Wagner’s art, too! I can see why the kids find it compelling. But how to keep them from touching it, when it is so inviting…! Thanks for sharing that link.

  5. What a great idea for introducing children to culture without all of the complaints. The “dog” idea was terrific. I wish I had spent more time teaching my children about culture, but I wasn’t very creative in getting them there. The best we did were the “Art and Wine Festivals” that go on thru out every town around us from May to Sept. They are fun and they are all different, but not exactly museum art. LOL. Altho there is one every year that always has either sculptures or paintings, etc. from semi famous artists that put on a showing of their work. I have gotten autographed poetry etc. from some of those. Not really in the “museum” catagory tho.

  6. You’ve struck a chord in me…When my teenaged son was away from home one summer in London, England, I wrote to him to be sure to visit the Tate Modern. Well, he did and from his email came the words of a 15 year-old: “Tate Modern is brilliant!” I was much gratified. Ahhh…The joy of seeing our children enjoy Art…

  7. Arti — Have you seen the Tate Liverpool? I may have a chance to see it this summer….

  8. No I haven’t … sounds like another great place to explore, for both adults and kids. Have fun!

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