My experiences of taking the children to anything remotely cultural have all ended in disaster.
The last museum we visited ended with me chasing two zombies through the corridors of learning and beauty and the last gallery we attempted to visit, well we didn’t actually make it through the doors when we realised there were breakable things at Mia height and didn’t think we could afford to risk it.
But I think it is important for children to appreciate such things, so we decided they should have another chance. And besides, during these 6 long weeks of school holidays we needed to stop using the TV as our only ‘art’ outlet (just kidding, we indulge in DVDs too . . .)
And so we found ourselves in Manchester. We had been invited to check out their art galleries, exhibitions and festivals as detailed on The Creative Tourist website.
And all the while I’m nodding my head saying ‘oo, lovely’ but in my heart thinking ‘holy moley, they do know we have a destructive 3 year old in tow don’t they? They do know that to my two, a gallery is like a giant art adventure and they cannot fight the urge to create, draw, oh ok ok, scribble?’
Still, parents do this all the time right? It’s no big deal. In fact I have a friend who practically lives in art galleries with her two kids and she has lived to tell the tale.
However, it doesn’t get off to a good start when Mia insists on taking Baby with us and I have visions of her leaving a trail of destruction behind us. Not unlike a day out with a child and a battering ram.
But wait, here was a cultural weekend with a difference, for youngsters were positively encouraged to get creative.
Manchester seems to have really hit the button when it comes to bringing the arts to a younger generation.
And did I mention that the majority of it is free?
From an interactive art gallery (build a face out of junk, write your ideal holiday destination on a luggage tag, build a makeshift naughty step out of your coat and a plank of wood – Ok that was just me) to an outdoor showing of The Incredibles.
Daniel struggled with the nudity in the art gallery somewhat.
“But why are all the ladies naked?” he kept imploring with barely disguised disgust as he glanced over again at the floor to ceiling painting of three Sirens in the altogether calling a ship full of (also half naked) men to their doom.
I tried to explain how artists consider the female form to be a thing of great beauty and how they want to recreate it in all its glory.
He looks at the painting again with renewed eyes. He studies it for the longest time then says:
“But WHY are they naked?”
I won’t lie to you, I was getting a bit embarrassed with the raised voices and the “oh no mummy, not ANOTHER one!” calls around the echoey halls (funnily enough hubby had managed to disappear at this point).
And then Mia started to take notice and stood in front of one portrait saying (volume control clearly broken) “that lady’s got really fat boobies mummy!” and I knew it was time to make a sharp exit.
Sure we suffered a little embarrassment (there was also the incident when Mia kept bashing the man sat next to her with Baby and we didn’t realise until she giggled and told us. Very loudly).
But it was also enlightening and enjoyable and the best fun we’ve had in ages.
Introduce your children to the arts too – just have a good explanation ready when they ask about the nudes.
** This article is a review of a paid-for weekend trip to Manchester organised through The Creative Tourist.