Living in New York City, the boys have grown up going to museums with us. But wandering around art museums can be tough sledding for energetic little dudes. So! I figured out a trick…
This weekend, we drove two hours from Brooklyn to Dia: Beacon, a contemporary art museum north of the city. I love this little gem and I was excited to walk around but less excited to be asked “how many minutes do we have left” and “can we go to the café” by my kids on repeat.
So, I came up with an idea: no-complaining candy. “If you choose to accept these three pieces of candy,” I told Toby and Anton, “it means that you agree to not complain at the museum. We will be there for exactly one hour, and if you feel draggy, you can just chew a piece of candy and look at the art.”
They looked at me with big eyes. “Do you choose to accept this candy?” I asked, very seriously. “Yes,” they nodded. And we were off!
First, we walked around Richard Serra’s steel sculptures — they’re so big and beautiful, they remind me of dinosaurs.
The boys loved this room, especially because…
…you can wander inside the sculptures, where the light is diffused and almost spiritual.
We saw Michael Heizer’s giant stone.
And Louise Bourgeois’s spider!
We examined Charles Gaines’s grid drawings. He talked about his early career in Interview Magazine: “When I started showing in New York… I started going to parties or to lectures or I’d be interviewed, and I can’t tell you how many times people have come up to me and said, ‘You’re Black.’ ‘I really appreciate you informing me. I know.’ [laugh] I was in a show and the curator of the show did not know I was Black, and then when they saw me at the opening — you know those spaghetti Westerns where the saloon is partying and then the guy in the white hat walks into the saloon?…and then the piano stops playing. The silence. It was literally that: I would walk into a space and the piano would stop playing.”
Finally, we strolled out, and the boys told us how much they had enjoyed the museum. “I liked the big sculptures and broken glass,” Toby said. A moment passed. “And the Starburst.”
Of course, we usually don’t give our kids treats for things they should be doing anyway. (They should just “buck up,” as my own parents often told us, haha.) But in this case, I figured they could earn a treat, and the candy actually helped them slow down and soak up the art.
Thoughts? Have you taken your kids to museums? Any pro tips? xoxo
P.S. A secret of the Natural History Museum, and a kids’ guide to NYC.