@story MARLA CANTRELL
@images COURTESY OF CRYSTAL BRIDGES
School’s out and we’re excited. Water parks await, baseball diamonds fill with kids, and for the first summer ever we have the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art within easy driving distance.
The Bentonville wonder opened on 11-11-11. The world-class museum, set on 120 acres complete with walking and biking trails, is free to the public. Inside its doors is a diverse collection of work by American artists from Colonial times to the present. Portraits of George Washington share space with Andy Warhol’s Dolly Parton. And Pinocchio, in all his wooden glory, stands in a space illuminated by light.
Each week there are Family Sundays, with live performances and art project for the kids. Can’t make it on Sunday? Just follow @Urban’s kid-friendly guide to make it your best day ever.
1. Stop by the gift shop FIRST. Let your kids pick out three postcards that show works of art that are currently on display.
2. Pick up the family guide brochure in the lobby, to help you work your way through the museum’s collection.
3. Make a game of it. Tell your kids they’re posing as visitors, but they’re really on a covert mission to find the art featured on the postcards. (Tell them they need to blend in, so that you don’t have to worry about them running ahead or speaking loudly in the galleries.)
4. When they match a work of art to the card, mark that card with a removable sticker.
5. While standing in front of the artwork they’ve discovered, ask them a few simple questions. What do you think is going on in this piece? What do you think life was like then? What do you think people did before they had electricity or running water?
6. In the abstract gallery, where art depends on shapes and color instead of concrete images, the questions change. If this painting could make a sound, what would it be? How does this sculpture make you feel? Is it happy? What do you think the artist was thinking as he or she painted this?
When the tour’s over, they’ll have the postcards to take home. And if you go at the right time, you can reward them with a picnic on the grounds, or you can take them to the museum’s café, Eleven, where there’s a special kids menu.
For more information, visit crystalbridges.org.