Wondering what to do with the kids for Spring Break? Well, here’s my list of L.A.’s 12 best kid-friendly museum activities to engage and inspire the whole family. I hope you enjoy your Spring holiday whatever you do, and be sure to share this blog post with your friends and family. See you in the galleries!
BEST FAMILY EVENTS:
1. Victorian Family Festival, Getty Museum, Saturday, April 12, 10:00 am-5:30 pm
This family festival is all about Victorian England when Queen Victoria ruled and photography was a new and exciting invention. Celebrating the Getty’s photography exhibition, A Royal Passion: Queen Victoria and Photography (see below), the festival offers a day of merriment and Victorian inspired activities, including old-time English music hall sing alongs, live Scottish bagpipe performances, and a self-portrait photo art-making activity. Free, no reservations required. All ages.
2. Puppet Festival, Skirball Cultural Center, Sunday, April 13, 10:00 am – 4:30 pm
3. Terry Riley: In C, Hammer Museum; Saturday, April 5 & April 12, 1:00-5:00 pm
Yuval Sharon’s performance piece “Terry Riley: In C” will transform the Hammer’s courtyard into a living work of art. In his visualization of the hipnotic minimalist composition In C, Sharon presents icons of everyday life in L.A. — like the giant inflatable “air dancing” figures you see in front of L.A. businesses (photo left) — while singers and musicians deliver an epic live performance. Barbara Kruger’s mural and Nayland Blake’s huge gingerbread house in the lobby are also kid-friendly highlights not to be missed. Free. All ages.
BEST EXHIBITIONS FOR FAMILIES:
4. The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats, Skirball Cultural Center (April 10 through September 7, 2014).
An inspiring, and very kid-friendly, journey into the creative world of Ezra Jack Keats, the award-winning author and illustrator of many beloved children’s books including The Snowy Day (1962). Published during civil rights movement in America, The Snowy Day was more than just child’s play, it was a strong political statement. The Snowy Day was the first modern full-color picture book to feature an African-American main character. Pick-up the exhibition’s family guide to learn more about Keats and his art.
5. Diane von Furstenberg: Journey of a Dress, Wilshire May Company Building, adjacent to LACMA (through May 1, 2014)
A must-see for L.A. fashionistas. Journey of a Dress, marks the 40th anniversary of Diane von Furstenberg’s iconic wrap dress, which she designed when she was only 26 years old. You’ll find 200 mannequins displaying vintage and contemporary interpretations of her famous design. The exhibition also includes vintage photographs of Von Furstenberg’s fashion shows, her glamorous social life, and her celebrity fans; plus portraits of the designer by reknown artists like Andy Warhol (photo right).
6. Jackson Pollock’s Mural, Getty Museum (March 11 through June 1, 2014).
Here’s a rare opportunity to see Jackson Pollock’s monumental work Mural (1943) – one of the most iconic paintings of the twentieth century. Part of the University of Iowa Museum of Art’s permanent collection, Mural arrived in L.A. two years ago for cleaning and extensive study by Getty experts. Pollock created the mural for art collector Peggy Guggenheim’s New York townhouse. The mural will be on view for a limited time only until June 1, 2014, so don’t wait to see it (see my review).
7. Fútbol: The Beautiful Game, LACMA (February 2-July 20, 2014)
Adults and kids alike will love this new exhibition, especially if they’re soccer fans like my sons. Fútbol-inspired paintings, photographs, videos, prints and sculptures by local and international artists explore the beauty, brawn, and excitement of the game; and its cultural significance in societies around the world (see my review).
8. A Royal Passion: Queen Victoria and Photography, Getty Center Museum (February 4–June 8, 2014)
This exhibition reveals the intriguing relationship between Queen Victoria and the invention of photography in the 19th century. Photography was introduced to the world in 1839 only two years after Victoria became queen. Rare early photographs and private portraits of the Royal Family document Queen Victoria’s extraordinary life and times, and her passion for photography (see event above).
9. Calder and Abstraction: From Avant-Garde to Iconic, LACMA (through July 27, 2014).
This retrospective brings together fifty Alexander Calder sculptures in an installation designed by architect Frank Gehry. Using ordinary flat sheets of metal and thin wire, Calder created extraordinary abstract mobiles that revolutionized the world of modern sculpture. My kids loved it and I know yours will too (see my review). Timed ticket reservations required.
NOTE: THESE ARE CLOSING SOON!
10. James Turrell: A Retrospective, LACMA (closes April 6, 2014).
James Turrell’s immersive light installations have to be experienced to be believed. Get ready to have your visual perception and your mind altered. See my review for details. Timed ticket reservations required. It’s a popular show so hurry and reserve your tickets online now before it sells-out.
11. Connecting Seas: A Visual History of Discoveries and Encounters, Getty Center GRI (closes April 13, 2014)
The Getty Research Institutes’ (GRI) Connecting Seas exhibition takes us back to a time before cars and airplanes – a time when people took long ocean voyages to see the world. Featuring rare books, maps, prints, and photographs; this exhibition presents a visual history of these seafaring explorations to the continents of Africa, Asia and the Americas. The exhibition’s Kids Gallery Guide, written by Cornelia Funke, features a scavenger hunt led by a 300 year old ghost pirate with a treasure map of the galleries.
Special Event: Join award-winning children’s author Cornelia Funke for a Storytelling and Book Signing event at the Getty Center Sunday, April 6 at 2pm. Free event for ages 8+. Reserve your tickets now.
12. The Silk Road, Natural History Museum, Los Angeles closes April 13, 2014).
Discover the Silk Road at the Natural History Museum, one of the most celebrated trade routes in history. Recreations of ancient city settings, videos, and hands-on activities allow visitors to imagine what it was like to travel the Silk Road 1,000 years ago. The Museum’s recent renovations include a new Entrance Pavilion featuring a real 63 foot-long whale specimen, an interactive Nature Lab and Nature Gardens — a perfect way to enjoy L.A.’s colorful springtime blossoms.
- Portrait of Queen Victoria Holding Portrait of Prince Albert, negative July 1854; print 1889, Bryan Edward Duppa and Gustav William Henry Mullins, carbon print. Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2013
- Image courtesy of the Skirball Cultural Center. Photo by Peter Turman.
- Image courtesy of the Hammer Museum.
- Ezra Jack Keats, “Crunch, crunch, crunch, his feet sank into the snow.” Final illustration for The Snowy Day, 1962. Collage and paint on board. Ezra Jack Keats Papers, de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection, McCain Library and Archives, The University of Southern Mississippi. Copyright Ezra Jack Keats Foundation
- Andy Warhol, Diane von Furstenberg, 1974, © Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo courtesy of Diane von Furstenberg and the Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts
- Jackson Pollock’s Mural (1943) arriving at the Getty Center in 2012 for conservation and study. Photo courtesy of J. Paul Getty Trust.
- Andy Warhol, Pele, 1978. Courtesy of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.
- The Prince and the Queen, 1854, Roger Fenton, salted paper print, hand colored. Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2013.
- Alexander Calder, La Grande vitesse (intermediate maquette) 1969, Calder Foundation, New York. © 2013 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo courtesy Calder Foundation, New York/Art Resource, NY.
- James Turrell, Breathing Light, 2013, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, purchased with funds provided by Kayne Griffin Corcoran and the Kayne Foundation, © James Turrell, Photo © Florian Holzherr.
- Detail of Batavia, City, Fortress and Residence of the Governor General of Holland, ca. 1750 Johann Baptist Bergmüller (German, 1724-1785) Hand-colored engraving, the Getty Research Institute.
- Traveling the Silk Road banner. Courtesy of the Natural History Museum.