Don’t forget to check out your Museum Passport from your local Chicago public library, which will give you free admission passes to 12 of Chicago’s world-class museums for free.
Art helps children make connections with the world, teaching them to better appreciate the experiences and points of view of other people. Creative expression through the arts helps children communicate their own observations and feelings, encouraging sharing and self-expression.
Nurture the artist within your child by setting off to explore the art treasures of Chicago. Take advantage of the amazing array of free art classes, tours and more.
The Museum of Contemporary Art is host to Family Days, where every second Saturday of the month, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., families can learn about art through hands-on activities, scavenger hunts and more. Admission is free for families with children 12 and under, and activities are tailored for children of all ages. Upcoming themes include I Heart Art on Feb. 13 and The Artist Studio on March 13. Free daily tours are also offered Tuesdays at 1, 2 and 6 p.m., Wednesdays-Fridays at 1 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays at noon, 1, 2 and 3 p.m. www.mcachicago.org.
Chicago’s very own world-class art museum, The Art Institute of Chicago, values and promotes art education for children through a variety of free programs. The new Ryan Education Center, a state-of-the-art facility, features five classrooms, three large studios and a kid-friendly gift shop. Stop in to view a family orientation video at the center to better guide your way throughout the galleries.
Play with blocks and puzzles, play an interactive game, participate in a drop-in art activity or storytelling hour or enjoy quiet time with a book from the extensive children’s library. Free classes, from mini-master classes for the tot set (age 3-5) to teen digital art studios, are sure to match the interests of the budding young artists in your family. Check out the family programs calendar at artic.edu for information on classes and family events.
Located within the University of Chicago’s Hyde Park campus, the Smart Museum of Art houses a permanent collection of more than 10,000 art objects, spanning five millennia of both Western and Eastern civilizations. The Smart’s small galleries and outdoor sculpture garden are excellent spaces for children and adults to explore art together. Check out the museum’s Web site before you go: Print gallery guides and play interactive games and activities, including an art detective game and an interactive sketchbook. www/smartmuseum.uchicago.edu/education.
The National Museum of Mexican Art, located in Chicago’s vibrant Pilsen neighborhood, is the nation’s largest Latino arts institution. The museum presents the Mexican culture from ancient times to the present, on both sides of the border, and offers great family learning opportunities. Don’t miss Kraft Family Sundays, a free, year-round, hands-on program where you can create art with your children.
Throughout the year, the museum’s education department offers Saturday morning or after-school art classes. Class themes may vary by exhibition, medium or technique. In July, children will have an opportunity to learn about diversity in the arts at the museum’s summer camp. nationalmuseumofmexicanart.org.
The Apple Store on North Michigan Avenue offers free computer arts workshops on everything from composing a song in Garage Band to building a photo album for families with kids (age 6-9 and 10-13). www/apple.com/retail/northmichiganavenue.
Concordia University has just launched a new online program to introduce first- through eighth-graders to art history. Ten online lesson packets for each grade level focus on higher level thinking and cover artists from Rousseau to da Vinci. www.uchicago.edu/artlessons.