How important is art and culture to your children?

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.

They drew, they built, they danced, they dress up, they told a man in the Imperial War Museum that they didn’t like his gas mask because he looked like a ‘rubbish alien’.

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.

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11 Responses to How important is art and culture to your children?

  1. I love art, so I drag my daughter to galleries and museums all the time. She typically ends up playing "Get in and out of the stroller again and again" or "Run around like a crazy person and scream at the top of your lungs." Fun games, I'm sure. Hopefully, one day, the over-exposure to art will sink into her skull and she'll appreciate it!

  2. Laura WOB says:

    Ha Funny i had a similar experinece recently at the walker art gallery in Liverpool – Fi kept fondling a nude roman statue and asking "why is his willy showing?" Kids you can't take them anywhere…..

    I will have to check out the Manchester Museums as i haven't been yet so thanks for the tips 🙂

  3. You see MM, this is exactly why you're my kind of gal!

  4. I think you're absolutely right to just go and plunge headlong into it. I wish I did it more (although with two it's hard to keep an eye on while while ensuring the other isn't trying to rearrange the displays!)

  5. Was really impressed with them Laura. Very geared up for children and not at all phased when we turned up all loud and excitable!
    If you go quickly you can catch the videogame nation exhibition at the Urbis which is a fantastic look back at gaming over the years and you even get to play Jet Set Willy and Manic Miner which hubby and I got particularly excited about. It has all the games you remember right up to present day X Boxes and whotnot.
    And did I mention it only costs £3? Bloody bargain!

  6. confusedhomemaker says:

    taking kids helps them develop a sense of appreciation as they get older, plus the discussions about nudes is pretty entertaining.

  7. Meredith@thinkthinks says:

    Oh I would have loved to have gone to the art gallery behind you and your kids. Much more entertaining than standing next to some amateur art critic waxing lyrical about the brushwork. Admit it, we all think "Woah, boobies" on occasion. 😀

    And well done Manchester for the kid-friendly art exhibits. Our government has just launched a scheme to get kids to galleries and museums here in New South Wales. Am looking forward to taking mine along to point at the boobs and willies too.

  8. nota bene says:

    Have taken the boy to galleries and museums and the like since he popped into the world. He enjoys it….it's in his nature. His sister though, is summed up by the comment at one event 'That's not art. That's a piece of wood. And that one has a hole in it.'

  9. Oh that's brilliant, I love it. I love her! Speaking out loud the things we're all thinking . . .

  10. Iota says:

    Great job on the naughty step. I'm sure the critics read it as an ironic comment on Tracy Emin's unmade bed installation. It would probably be worth thousands by now, if you'd left it there..

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