It's no secret that Chicago is home to some of the most highly respected art museums in the world, but it can be intimidating to darken the doors of such august institutions with diaper bags, juice boxes and hyperactive kids in tow.
Thankfully, the Museum of Contemporary Art aims to be as family-friendly as possible, offering a monthly Family Day program. Family Day, held the second Saturday of each month, introduces families to "the artists of our time" with hands-on activities and interactions with artists and their work.
"We equip families with methods to discover personal connections to contemporary art," says Elena Goetz, manager of youth and family programs at the museum. "Contemporary art is for everyone."
Family Days revolve around a theme. February's program, called "I Heart Art," simply celebrates a love of art and the MCA's collection.
Each program includes four different aspects: Studios, three to four art-making projects (generally not a prefabricated project); a Scavenger Hunt that gets families exploring all different corners of the museum through visual clues; the Tot Spot, a quiet snack and reading room where families can take a break; and Find the Artist, in-gallery experiences an artist facilitates games, discussions or other interactive experiences.
"Each family customizes the day for what they need. We have all kinds of families who come," Goetz says.
She says the focus is on families spending time together and the programs are appropriate for all ages. And, since the themes change monthly, they've seen families return over and over again.
"The emphasis is on facilitating that making, talking and looking together as a family, and we use art as a catalyst to do so," Goetz says. "We're making sure that family programs are not watered-down contemporary art experiences."
If you're still worried about lugging around your diaper bag, juice boxes and hyper kids, the museum even offers a stroller valet, so you can leave your extra wheels at the door.
And that, we can agree, is a true masterpiece.
Elizabeth Diffin is the associate editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Wheaton.
See more of Elizabeth's stories here.