Contemporary Art and KIDS?


A lot of people, including myself, might not think to take their kids to a contemporary art museum. Seems a little… modern… and funky… and how will I explain to my kids the meaning behind a giant cube?

However, a friend of mine recently posted about the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art’s family day events and I found myself suddenly eager to give it a try. After all, it has FAMILY in the name of the event.


Turns out all my silly misconceptions were just that… silly.

The MCA’s Family Day was an absolute blast.

These monthly open houses are a fantastic way for kids (and parents!) to see how art can mean so much more than traditional paint and sculpture. There were five stations where kids could dig right in and join the projects. From folding paper and stacking it alongside other paper boats to see how one small item, when placed with a hundred others can create its own work of art, to screen printing with a local community printing group, the place was full of kids and families enjoying the process of creating.


In the lobby, our daughter’s favorite exhibit offered up the opportunity for kids to step inside giant three-dimensional cubes. The kid inside the cube would move and the people standing outside the cube would copy the movement. Anna found another sweet girl to work with and the two of them mimed for several minutes before switching roles and trying it again.

Snacks were offered in a multi-media room where kids could watch interesting videos created by artists with images that would morph and transform. The videos got mixed reviews from our kids, but we all appreciated the chance to sit down and enjoy a banana and a juice box.

Now there were signs outside one exhibit that asked parents to use discretion with kids when viewing it. I appreciate that the museum warns parents to potentially graphic content. Regardless of your perspective about what you want your kids exposed to, it’s good to have the warning there. I think one kid wandered in there for a moment accidentally, but that’s our own fault.

I would go to another Family Day event in a heartbeat. The instructors and volunteers did a fantastic job with the kids and everyone walked out energized by the activities. My thoughts on visiting the museum on a regular weekday would really come down to whether we were really interested in the exhibits themselves. Having the interactive program was a huge plus for our family. The current exhibits at the museum might not have been enough pull for our kids.

However, we opened up another avenue for city day trips and it was a good reminder that art can be so much more than our default definitions.

Contemporary Art and KIDS?