Boston, Mass – It’s only recently that I have gained the confidence (or foolhardiness) to take the twins to the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) when there are no special kids’ activities on tap. We used to go regularly to the bimonthly “play dates” organized by the museum, but I finally realized that the stories and crafts on offer were always of secondary interest to my boys. Especially as they get a little older, they would much rather explore the galleries and marvel at the artwork and make up their own stories about it.
Now that we have investigated on our own, here are some highlights of the MFA for kids:
Indian Hunter & Pronghorn Antelope Paul Manship’s graceful bronze statues grace the Fenway entrance to the MFA. On a visit this past summer, the twins spent some time examining the hunter, wondering why he had no arrow in his bow, and eventually figuring out that the arrow had already pierced the side of the antelope. On a visit nearly six months later, I was gratified that they still remembered the sculptures and were eager to point out the built-in narrative.
Egyptian Art The mummy gallery is a no-brainer for kids, right? This is a fascinating exhibit for anybody, actually, but especially for kids who are intrigued by death masks, coffins and ancient temples. It’s not as scary as it sounds, which was a bit of a disappointment to the twins, but they still want to go back every time we visit the museum. Plus, there’s a cat mummy.
Model Ship Gallery This small but attention-grabbing gallery features models of some local favorites, including the USS Constitution and the Flying Cloud, as well as the gigantic centerpiece Valkenisse. The massive seascape painting (by Fitz Henry Lane) is sure to catch a kid’s eye.
Art of the Americas – Decorative Arts You can probably skip the many examples of silver, china and furnishings on display. But there are a few galleries that are downright delightful for children, such as the Joyce & Edward Linde Gallery, with weather vanes and carousel figures depicting all manner of creatures.
Art of the Americas – 20th Century The twins are really partial to 20th-century art (as is their mother). They are moved by bold shapes and colors. It doesn’t bother them if they can’t tell exactly what an artwork is depicting (obviously). At the MFA, the Art of the Americas wing has a stunning collection of sculptures, mobiles, and paintings which capture the twins’ imagination (thanks to the MFA for the image). But the best feature–as I wrote in my last MFA post–is the interactive touchscreen table at the center of the Lane gallery, which allows visitors to explore the way the artists created their paintings. For once, the twins are allowed to touch!
I Dreamed I Could Fly Jonathan Borofsky’s unexpected series of sculptures–located outside the Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art–has sparked endless discussion in our family. Are they falling? Are they flying? We have not yet spent too much time in the Linde Wing, but I think it has a lot of potential to appeal to the twins, for the whimsy and wonder that contemporary art provokes.
Lime Green Icicle As I pointed out in a previous post, everyone loves Dale Chihuly’s Lime Green Icicle Tower. Aside from the visual spectacle, the Shapiro Family Courtyard also offers some room to let loose (a little). We have actually played hide-and-seek without being scowled at.