Thursday, August 9, 2012

visit to National Gallery of Art in D.C.

This week's Mom+Zoë fieldtrip was to National Gallery of Art. As last week, the outing was as much a part of the learning experience as the museum -- bus+ metro+ walking (sans stroller this time) in humid hot hot HOT weather. We arrived at the museum soon after they opened (and were still quite empty-- yay!) and headed straight for the potty. I was nervous as Zoë said she needed the potty as we arrived on the metro... finding another potty seemed as lengthy a process as booking it to the museum -- which took begging, bribing, and arm pulling to make in ~15 minutes (not that it was more than 4 blocks away!) Toddlers are fast when it comes to evading grown-ups, but extremely slow when there's a goal destination. Anyway... no accidents! Whew...

Once we got settled, I asked Zoë what she wanted to see. Let's back up a second. So earlier this week, I had already decided on this fieldtrip and was preparing for our visit. I figured even if we got in an hour of random cultural immersion, it would be better than not. But I did research the best way to introduce art to a toddler. There are sites upon sites of activities to do in museums with 5+ but very little suggested for 3 year olds. At that age, art is what they do themselves. But we wanted to go to the museum. So frustrated, I forged on ahead on my own path. We will call it the Basu-Zych technique. I threw whatever art I had on hand at home over the course of the day, tried not to push... but we leafed through some art books that I had on Van Gogh, da Vinci, Frida Kahlo and other women painters, some other special stuff from the internet. A few seemed to make an impression on her:
  • Vermeer's Girl Writing a Letter (shown on left)-- I have a print in my bedroom and she remembered that. So when we saw this one in a book, she ran over to the room to point it out.  
  • Van Gogh's room -- she has this in a children's book that Ninamashi gave her and when she saw in another book, it was a fun matching game. 
  • Mary Cassatt's Children Playing at the Beach (shown at right with Zoë) -- another one in the children's book and also in a book I had of women painters.
  • Frida Kahlo's self portrait (shown on right) with the thorn necklace -- this one fascinated Zoë : "Why does she have a necklace that is cutting her? Who gave it to her? I like the necklace but why is it hurting her? Why did she draw this if it hurts her? "... so we made up some stories and I tried to impress on her that that's the power of art... nobody knows the answers and the viewer can make up her own story! 
So with this preparation, Zoë asked to see Frida Kahlo and the necklace painting. I was really impressed that she remembered this since Tuesday's art lesson. See? Looks like random exposure does work! Sadly, this one isn't at the National Gallery, but may be at another museum (we will try to hunt it down-- future project). We did see lots of sculptures (and paintings) of Degas' ballerinas that Zoë enjoyed posing with.

We also saw the Vermeer Girl's series: Girl Writing a Letter, Girl with Red Hat, Girl with Flute. We also had a lot of fun making faces at Honore Daumier's caricature sculptures (one shown on left)--  "What an ugly nose! Can you look like that guy?" (As a bonus, we got some passersby to laugh... or look at us horrified. I forget. Probably both...), and tried to guess what made Rodin's Age of Bronze sculpture (at right) look so forlorn -- our best guess is that he missed the bus.

Eventually, we headed upstairs for Impressionism (my favorite! It isn't a successful trip to the art museum unless you see Impressionists :) ) I am sad we missed the Van Gogh room. Zoë enjoyed posing with her favorites. We saw Renoir, Monet, Pisarro, Seurat, Cassatt, Childe Hassam,  ... and then hit Zoë's limit at ~45 minutes. Perfect timing for lunch!

Daddy met us at the cafeteria. Food. Home. Sleep. That's what I call a success!

1 comment:

  1. What a day to cherish. You took just the right approach as far as what I learned in my Montessori Art with children class.

    And the best thing is you enjoyed it so much.

    About potty- I came across a wonderful product for a toilet seat cover to be used with children. When you come here remind me of it. So waiting for your coming. Love Ma.