Lil Kid, Big Museum! Our recent KidPass adventure: a private museum tour at the Metropolitan Museum of Art! The tour is offered through the company Private Museum Tours, and is geared specifically for children. They focus on the stories and the culture behind the art, and make the museum tours informative, enlightening, and most importantly – fun!
How amazing that this incredible tour was offered as part of our class choices on KidPass!
Lil Kid is such an art lover, and couldn’t wait to get started.
Our tour guide was Maria Yoon, founder of Private Museum Tours. Maria has quite the resume, working for 18 years in several of New York’s premier museums, and was previously a NYC school art teacher. An accomplished artist herself – Maria has several of her own works in the permanent collection of MOMA. She was incredible, knowledgeable, and really funny. She was an absolute joy to be around, and her talent and passion shined throughout our experience.
The tour started in the museum’s lobby, where Maria personally greeted the group and lead us into the museum.
Our first stop – the Inca exhibit! Maria explained that the Incas lived in Columbia, Chile and Peru – and often created projects to honor their gods – Gold for the Sun and Silver for the Moon. Maria asked the children to look around the large room – what do you see? Gold! The children exclaimed. Almost everything is gold – because there was so much gold at the time of the Incas! Gold was plentiful, and as there was so much of it, and was easy to find and use for these projects.
However, there was a bit of work to be done before gold becomes a works of art. Starting as a nugget – gold must be flattened first. She had the children guess how many times it took to hit the gold with a mallet before it was flattened…Lil Kid guessed 4 times? The other attendee – 200,000 times? Maria said that they were close… 2,000 times! The children were amazed. Loved how Maria immediately got the children engaged and interested.
Taking the experience further – Maria pulled out a small piece of gold foil and a wooden stylus for each child, allowing them each to etch into the material just as the Incas did! A fabulous tie-in to the lesson, and an engaging (and fun) activity for the children. Lil Kid loved it!
Next we visited the Bird in Space sculpture by Constantin Brancusi. Maria had the children walk around the sculpture a few times, asking the children what they thought of the art – and if they could tell what the art was depicting. It’s modern art – use your imagination! What does it look like? One child offered – a banana? A flag? This is actually a bird! Maria offered. The children were perplexed, but so intrigued. I loved watching their intrigue and curiosity. You could see their imaginations open through their eyes.
After, Maria handed the children a piece of wire and asked them to create a bird. The children loved twisting and tying the wire, and creating fun shapes. A fun activity and brilliant way to capture the essence of modern art.
Next – up to the 2nd floor to see a famous Jackson Pollock piece! Maria started by asking how everyone thought the painting was created. Did he stand in front of it? From a distance? The children responded that he probably stood in front of it while painting. Nope! He actually stood ON the painting! You can see his foot prints! So fascinating. The children ran up to the painting to look for foot prints.
Next she asked the children to name how many colors they see? “Black! Grey! White! Blue!” There’s actually one more Maria offered. The children kept looking and looking… Maria finally showed them the teeny tiny red dot at the bottom of the painting (can you see it above?!) She told the children that he purposely placed that dot there, and that actually every single dot and mark was thought about and calculated.
The children then sketched their own painting while Maria played Jazz music – The same music Pollock himself was listening to while he made this piece! Love how Maria added elements of sound to the experience as well, creating such a magical (and memorable) experience.
Next into the Kings Palace. “This isn’t a monster – it’s a king!”
The children were very curious of the carvings on the wall.
She explained that writing was invented in Mesopotamia 5,000 years ago – where Iraq sits today. Their language was strictly of triangles! She then showed the children a wall that used the trinagle language. So fascinating!
After Maria gave a lesson on the coloring used on walls. As you can see here – these walls are completely colorless. Maria explained and that these walls used to be rainbow in color! The children’s eyes were large with wonder. What happened? The color has washed off over the years due to people not taking care of it properly, as such the color has faded (and that’s why you need to take care of your toys!). Thank you Maria!
How did the people paint the walls? What did they use? Maria pulled out her tablet and showed the children pictures of saffron, as well as other materials and taught the children how these were crushed to create pigment for paint. She had even another trick up her sleeve. She pulled out a small container and handed a little ball to Lil Kid. Do you know what this is? He shook his head no. She then placed the ball on a white piece of paper and crushed the item. It was a dried beetle! The beetle produced a red color on the paper. She explained – this is how people created red color!
We ended the tour in Astor Court in the Asian Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She explained that this room is about Feng Shui – all balanced, and enlightening. It is made of all natural materials that you can touch. The children loved to Koi fish of course, and that everything was made of natural material. She had the children study the patterns seen in the door and windows, and asked the children to scratch the pattern into their own art project. The children loved it!
Thank you Maria for an amazing, and relaxing way to end our incredible tour. Such a special, one of a kind experience – would highly recommend to anyone!
See more amazing class options and experiences HERE
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