Have Twins, Will Travel

Museum of Fine Arts

Boston, Mass – Daddio and I took the twins on an “play date” to the Museum of Fine Arts. This was not something we dreamed up ourselves or organized with friends: I wouldn’t dare. This is an organized program offered by the MFA – free with admission to the museum, which means free for members.

This was in fact the justification that I used for renewing our membership. I am smart enough to know that Daddio and I will probably not indulge in more than one or two “artist dates” at the museum (which is what we used to do all the time in our former life BT). But I am always always always looking for things to do with the twins. So… artist date, play date, it’s all good.
I think the program is pretty impressive. There is no preregistration or anything; so depending how many families show up, it has the potential to be an organizational nightmare. But the system they have in place runs really smoothly.
You’re given a group assignment upon arrival, but then everybody waits in the Shapiro Courtyard for the program to start. This is perfect, as there is room for the kids to run around and there are a few kid-captivating pieces of artwork on display, namely the fabulous Lime Green Icicle Tower by Dale Chihuly. My twins love the Lime Green Icicle Tower. Everybody loves the Lime Green Icicle Tower.
The museum spreads out giant pieces of newsprint on the floor, with big buckets of crayons so the kids can color. This seems like it should be a fun activity, but the twins are not into coloring at all so this does not hold their attention for long.
But it doesn’t matter, because then the docent arrives to gather the group together and lead them into a gallery to look at the art. Each month there is a theme. So, for example, this month the theme was the beach, so we looked at some paintings of the beach. Usually there is a story and a song related to the theme, followed by some sort of activity to encourage the children to look at the art.
(I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t notice who painted the beach paintings… but I did notice the nearby Van Gogh. And I couldn’t take my eyes off the two paintings that were the room’s centerpiece. Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? is one of my favorite paintings by Paul Gaugin. In an incredibly lucky break, it is currently being exhibited alongside Cezanne’s The Large Bathers, which is on temporary loan from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This is something that I might actually make a special trip to the museum to see, aka an “artist date” and I got to see it on a “play date”!)
Anyway, it seems like the MFA is still trying to figure out the best formula for keeping the kids engaged and teaching them about art. This month, we actually spent a lot less time looking at art, and more time doing other activities, which was a little disappointing. But the twins still had a great time.
After about 40 minutes, the docent leads the group back out to the courtyard for the obligatory craft project. Don’t get me wrong. I love craft projects, but the twins do not. But that’s exactly why I bring them to the art museum. I can rarely focus their attention on such a project at home because they would rather run around and play with their toys; but in this context, they might just get into it.
I have not been super impressed with the craft projects, which usually involve coloring and sticking stickers. Not that I have anything against coloring and sticking stickers; but that actually is something we might do at home. (Fortunately, the MFA has a much better selection of stickers than we have at home. That’s what my membership dollars are paying for!)