Interact with art


New hands-on exhibit lets kids explore


Think of the Art Institute of Chicago and hands-on is hardly the first thing that comes to mind. But the newest exhibit at the venerable art museum is decidedly hands-on and kid-friendly. "Faces, Places and Inner Spaces" allows kids to explore 11 major works of art from around the globe-a self-portrait of American artist Archibald J. Motley Jr., painted scrolls from China and Japan and sculpture from India, Africa and Mexico. Children can use a computer to morph the image of artist Motley, a Chicago original whose work centered on African-American life in the Bronzeville neighborhood. They can discuss why he chose to dress formally, or how the background changes the meaning of the picture. They can walk along the Chinese scroll searching for shapes in the complex picture. They can model a traditional Kabuki dress. Or learn to write Chinese characters. The day my children and I visited, there were few other families wandering around the exhibit. Good thing, too. There are only a few hands-on things to go around-two Kabuki dresses, two computers, a handful of "search and find" shapes for the Chinese scroll. Without a crowd, the kids rarely had to wait more than a few minutes for a turn. They would have grown quickly frustrated if there had been more kids clamoring. On Sept. 27, the Art Institute will debut another kid-focused exhibit. In celebration of the newest Babar the Elephant book, Babar’s Museum of Art, this exhibit will showcase more than 40 original paintings and sketches from the book. Unlike "Faces, Places and Inner Spaces," however, Babar is a decidedly hands-off exhibit. The Art Institute is at 111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago. Admission is $10 adults, $6 children, students and seniors. For more information, call (312) 443-3600 or visit

-- Cindy Richards

Kids Eat Chicago

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