April 2012 Museum Activities for Kids and Adults

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Spring is finally here, and April’s Museum Stories calendar is full of springtime things to do in Los Angeles. You’ll find plenty of creative ways to keep the kids busy over Spring Break, and throughout the month.  And when you’re ready for some kid-free time, I’ve listed some great grown-up museum events for parents to explore on their own.  Here are my April picks for kids and adults:

Japanese Gardens: The Huntington’s historic Japanese Gardens will reopen to the public on April 11 after a year-long 6.8 million dollar  renovation. When I was young, the garden’s  koi-filled ponds and moon bridge completely captivated my imagination.  I can’t wait to take my kids and see what they think.

Spring Break Activities:  If you’re looking for mid-week spring break kids activities, the Getty Villa is the place to go. During the first two weeks of April (when most schools are on Spring Break) there’s a Spicy Scents drop-in daily workshop.  Children learn how to make perfumes using real spices, just like the ancient Greeks and Romans (April 1-15, except April 8, closed Tuesdays). Tickets required.  Be sure to stop by the Villa’s children’s activity space, the Family ForumMy kids love the hands-on activities about ancient Greek vases.

Earth Day:  On Earth Day Sunday, April 22, the Hammer presents a free screening of the extraordinary documentary Oceans – a film about the delicate ecology of the amazing world of creatures under the sea (8+ yrs).  After the movie, check-out LACMA’s festival Earth Day: Because Earth without Art is Eh (love that!). There’ll be a variety of eco-friendly activities for children and adults like bike-related films, nature art walks, tours, and artist-led workshops.

On Saturday, April 21 there’s an Earth Day Children’s Workshop at the Huntington. Kids not only get a chance to learn about the Huntington’s Conservatory rain forest plants, they’ll also meet some of the Wildlife Learning Centers’ rescue animal friends from around the world.

Easter Brunch:  What could be better than Easter brunch on the Huntington’s Garden Terrace lawn. In addition to a yummy buffet spread, there’s a kids’ corner buffet, an Easter egg hunt, and even a visit from the Easter Bunny (Sunday, April 8). Reservations required. Afterwards, take a stroll through the gardens, an ideal place to walk off all those brunch indulgences and chocolate eggs.

Family Festivals (all ages): The Skirball’s Puppet Festival celebrates the fanciful art of puppetry with a day full of performances, puppet making, and storytelling (Sunday, April 1). Tickets required. For a Spring inspired adventure, visit the Pacific Asia Museum’s Free Family Festival and celebrate the centennial of Japan’s gift of cherry trees to our nation’s capitol (Sunday, April 22).

Are your kids into mythology?  Then don’t miss the fun at the Getty Villa’s Aphrodite and the Gods of Love Family Festival (Saturday, April 21). There’ll be live performances, storytelling, and hands-on activities about Aphrodite, the goddess of passion, beauty, and love. See the Villa’s current Aphrodite exhibition too if you have time. Tickets required.

Younger Kids Workshops (4-8 yrs) At the Fowler Museum’s Lanterns for Japan, families can share their hopes of renewal for Japan by making paper lanterns and paper cranes (Sunday, April 15). This workshop marks the closing day of the Fowler’s powerful photo exhibition, Moving Forward: Life after the Great East Japan Earthquake.  Other workshops include LACMA’s  Recycle, Transform, Make Art (April 1, 15, 22), and a Norton Simon Toulouse-Lautrec storytelling workshop about the artist’s life and work plus a hands-on activity (Sunday, April 1 and April 29).

Older Kids Workshops (10-14 yrs) In the Hammer’s (Mini) Words, Spoken workshop, pre-teens and teens can learn about the art of the spoken word from pro Mike Sonksen, aka Mike the PoeT (Sunday, April 15).  The event concludes with a mini spoken-word slam.

Coming Up: Hammer Kids K.A.M.P. (aka, the coolest day ever) is Sunday, May 20, 2012. Proceeds from this event support the Museum’s free family programs. Tickets on sale now.

Gallery Tour: Still haven’t seen LACMA’s Ellsworth Kelly: Prints and Paintings exhibition? Well, here’s an opportunity to see the show through the eyes of a master printer. Gemini G.E.L.’s shop manager James Reid is giving a walkthrough of the exhibition on Tuesday, April 3 (7:30 pm).

Cuban Rhythms and Jazz:  Sierra Maestra of Buena Vista Social Club will be playing their thrilling Cuban rhythms at the Skirball (Thursday, April 5). This is a hot performance, so get your tickets now before they sell out.  Later in the month, the great Kenny Burrell and Los Angeles Jazz Orchestra Unlimited will be performing at LACMA (Friday, April 27, 6pm). The performance is free so you’ll have some extra cash for  LACMA’s trendy Stark Bar.

Last Call for Pacific Standard Time: The bad news is that PST is ending, but the good news is that a few exhibitions will be up until June, including the Chinese American Museum’s (CAM) Breaking Ground: Chinese American Architects in Los Angeles (1945-1980). So why not grab lunch downtown in the El Pueblo district and see CAM’s Breaking Ground this month – there are some very cool mid-century architectural studies on display (photo on right). You can learn more about the lives and work of the four L.A. Chinese American architects featured in the show at CAM’s Breaking Ground panel discussion (Thursday, April 5, 6 pm).

Cooking Class: Eat, cook, and learn about the art of love at the Getty Villa’s culinary workshop Aphrodisiacs. This hands-on cooking class explores the role erotic magic and food played in the ancient world of courtship and marriage. This event includes a communal lunch. (Saturday/Sunday, April 14, 15, 28, 29). Tickets required.

Night Out:  Mark your calendars, there’s an opening reception for the upcoming Mickalene Thomas and Isa Melsheimer exhibitions at the Santa Monica Museum of Art (SMMoA) on Friday evening, April 13.

Herb Ritts: L.A. Style  at the Getty Center (April 3-August 26,2012) – This exhibition features a selection of L.A.-based photographer Herb Ritts’ vintage prints, magazine covers, Polaroids, and video projects.

Children of the Plumed Serpent: The Legacy of Quetzalcoatl in Ancient Mexico at LACMA (April 1-July 1, 2012).  This is the first large-scale show exploring the ancient kingdoms of southern Mexico and their patron deity Quetzalcoatl.

Visions of Empire:  The Quest for a Railroad Across American, 1840-1880 at the Huntington (April 21-July 23). Train buffs are sure to enjoy the exhibition’s 200 collection items (including original letters, diaries, photos) chronicling the early days of U.S. railroad history, many on display for the first time.

Stay tuned. I’ll be blogging more about these exhibitions after they open.

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See you in the galleries!


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