Kids and Families

I love looking at art with kids. They use language and references and associations and notice and think about things in ways that adults just don't, which makes our interaction with the art and with them so much richer. I try to make the exploration of art fun and tremendously interactive-- using smells, sounds, movement and even taste on occassion. I think one thing children and adults have in common is that we love a great story told with passion and this is something I strive to do in every tour. My number one goal, however, is getting them to slow down and look closely at things and figure out their own interpretations.

Any tour I provide could be tailored to children and families but here are a few I think really bring out a full family experience together and that children especially love. 

At the Met...

At the Guggenheim...

  Time Travel 

Soar through the expanse of human history and stop in at any time and place you wish. Want to visit the guardians of one of the seven wonders of the ancient world? Walk inside a three thousand year old Egyptian temple?  Stare into the faces of the men who ruled one of the greatest empires in human history? Explore the long buried bedroom of a victim of a volcanic eruption? Surround yourself in the pure golden world of the Aztec rulers? Size up armor Henry the VIII wore while charging into battle? Let's start by visiting a 7,000 year old musician from the Greek islands and see where our imaginations take us.

American History

We see George Washington every day on the $1 bill-- but who was the real George Washington? What was it like in a soldier's battle camp during the Revolutionary War? What did people's houses look like in New York 400 years ago? How did children learn to read in frontier America? When did little boys stop wearing dresses? When did people start eating in a ‘dining room?' From whaling ships to one room school houses, Christmas dinner lotteries, to Fifth Avenue homes, bustling 19th century Wall Street to peaceful Midwestern cider making festivals we traverse American history-- walking through original interiors, playing with old fashioned toys, dodging rough riders of the old west, and ending up in the modern age pondering the wild ride that has been American history.

Palaces, Private Rooms, and Hidden Spaces

Have you ever wanted to peek into a king’s bedroom? Find rooms in a museum that no one else can find? On this tour, we start in a glimmering royal music room and then disappear into hidden nooks of the Met, steal inside the most sacred spaces of an immense Egyptian temple, and then slip into the private study of an Italian Duke. Criss-crossing the museum, we find hidden gems where the crowds can’t find us and find our way into the private homes of saddlers, Wall Street tycoons, Chinese poets, and famous queens without leaving Fifth Avenue.

Dreams, Colors and Whimsy at the Guggenheim

 

We will explore the new visions early modern artists created as they dove into their dreams, and memories, and looked at nature and city streets through its colors, and with a sense of mystery and humor. These artists could find inspiration from the circus, a view, a pet, a recollection, and we will too.

At the NY Historical Society...

Revolution! Battles!

 

What started the American Revolution? How did soldiers live and fight during the Civil War? What did a horse’s tail have to do with the Declaration of Independence and why did it end up in a museum hundreds of years later? How heavy was a musket and how fast could YOU load one? Find out all this and more looking at objects and paintings from the greatest NY collection of American history.

Life in Old NY

What did NY used to look, smell, and sound like? What kind of people were in New York when Henry Hudson arrived? What was the most precious item Dutch settlers brought with them? (Hint: it's art!) What happened to the famous sculpture of King George on Bowling Green? Why did doors get wider in 1750?  What did New York kids play with in 1820? How did rich people move around the city before subways and cars?! Who built New York as we know it and how did it use to look? How did it change through the centuries and WHY? The kids will find this all out for themselves and a lot more! Looking at artifacts, toys, photos, art, and objects from little tiles to giant carriages, we re-create life in old New York. Then we will imagine how those in the future will look at our stuff and ponder us!

How Do They Do That?!

Have you ever looked at a work of art and wondered how did they do that?! Kids and adults alike ask me this all the time—and for good reason! Let's stop asking and find out! We will explore how a bunch of little pebbles turn into mosaics, how a stained glass window starts with some colored shapes, all the ways you can make sculpture and how a lump of clay turns into a work of art, how you need math tools for Islamic patterns, and how egg can make a famous painting. Connecting the materials and the process to a finished product makes art come alive. Touching cold marble and finding the beautiful grains in a piece of wood, holding the tools of a sculptor and the miniature brushes of an Indian painter kids get very hands on in the galleries. They feel and work with the raw material all these great artists started with!

          Become a Historian!

How do historians find clues about the past from artifacts hundreds of years old? How can they figure out if a painting is lying? What old letters and newspapers can bring the world of 1800’s NY to life? How can a doctor’s bag, a rifle, a sculpture, and a pair of glasses spill fascinating secrets about a bygone age? We will discuss the observation and inference, the detective work, and close looking that allows historians to unravel history.

At the Museum of Modern Art...

Celebrations and Holidays Around the World

How did people in Rome celebrate a wedding or a birthday 3000 years ago? How did the ancient Assyrian king entertain his 18,000 guests in Nishapur? How do people in Burkina Faso dance and make music to rejoice in a new harvest? Where do we get St. Patrick’s Day? What scary ghost stories can we find in Aztec myths in time for Halloween? How did people in 19th century America celebrate Christmas? How did the Chinese make pouring tea such a special occasion? Let’s explore the celebrations, rituals, and festivals celebrated around the world. *A great tour for any holiday season *A great tour for any holiday season

                      What is art?

Is a car art? Is a chair art? Does art always have to be a painting or a sculpture? This tour looks at all the artists who found art in the world around them, from games to collages, bicycle tires to black squares. We ask kids to think of how art is really just what you do with a bunch of things,-- colors, shapes, patterns, objects, cutouts. We look at all the ways you can express an idea or a joke or a story or someone's personality outside the bounds of drawing. We ask kids to look at the world around them and realize that everything we see was created by someone with their own ideas of what art is. 

        Mysteries of Ancient Egypt
 
Read hieroglyphs, find mummies, and discover how the people who built the pyramids and a famous empire lived and dressed, studied and played, spent time with family, and prepared for the afterlife. By looking at art from jewellery to temples, dressing up, and learning ancient symbols and stories, we will unlock the secrets of the past.

The Greatest Stories in Art

Crossing the museum from ancient China to Iran to Europe, we will find enduring legends, myths, epics, battles, great kings, and brave women who have won a place in the hearts and minds of thousands of generations of artists and kids alike.

Ancient Greek Myths and Heroes

We will find Gods and legendary heroes, athletes, and warriors, play ancient games and try on togas. Looking closely at pottery, paintings, and sculpture, we will tell the great tales of the ancient world.

                     What do you see?
Modern art uses splashes, colors, shapes, and sometimes chaos to bring out emotions and memories, associations, and wildly different interpretations. This exploration is all about kids telling me what to see while learning that modern art is all about thinking freely.  
South American,Meso-American and Native American Gods, Myths and Legends 

Jade, solid gold, porcupine quills, antler, shell, feathers—the art of the Americas will introduce us to a world of rare and wondrous materials not found in the art of other regions and the magical ways they were put to use in the art of the Incas and Aztecs of Mexico, the Maya of Central America, and some of the many Native American tribes of North America. The mesmerizing stories of creation and the Gods of the night, the sun, the moon, the living, and the dead will all be told.

Gods, Dance, Costume, and Daily Life in Ancient Asia

 

Japanese cherry blossoms opening to the sound of the koto, bustling labyrinthine cities unravelled on 80 foot scrolls, elephant-headed gods and glass dear, warriors, children, dancers, the animals of the zodiac, live fish and many more delights of India, China, and Japan will be sought and found as we weave our way through the sprawling Asian galleries of the Met.

    What do you see? What do you feel?

Sometimes artists don't tell us what we are looking at, they ask us to tell them. Do you recognize anything that looks slightly off, has a familiar thing taken on a different shape? Or is it all just chaos? Sometimes artists don't show us a person or a story, they show a feeling. What does it feel like in the darkest part of the jungle or on a rollercoaster? Sometimes two people can look at the same art work and see totally different things and feel completely differently. This tour asks families to create their own interpretations reaching into their own thoughts and memories. 

Jump into the painting!

This tour asks kids to jump into a work of art and describe the world they find there. What does it sound like and smell like? What do you notice? Is it safe, do you want to stay? What will you explore first? How do the colors and shapes affect your adventure there? What would you name the people you see? What are they like? Is there a lot of movement or is it all very still? Who would like this place? Do you want to go back?

Colors, Shapes, Patterns, Textures

In this exploration we look for shapes and how they fit together. We look at colors and what they make us think about or how they make us feel. We look at all the different textures a work of art can have from raw material to highly polished, from cold steel to rough gravel. We look for patterns in works of art and in the very rooms around us. Looking at the basic building blocks of any work of art, we explore how material, shape, pattern,  and color make up the entire world around us, and how we can continue to search for them long after we have left the museum

Well When I Look at it That Way...

Many artists love to play with their viewer. They ask us to move around and through spaces, to look at it from different angles, to think about it one way and then think about it another. This exploration looks at works of art that make us move, that have little secrets, that change completely depending on how we look at it and from where. Reminding kids that what seems set and sure may not always be what it seems..

At the Met- Cloisters...

BEASTS!

Beasts, both real and imaginary, whimsical and ancient, mythical and monstrous can be found everywhere in Medieval art. Finding them and figuring out what they are, what their powers could be, why they are there, and where they came from will be the adventure on this fun and fearsome exploration.

Great Medieval Stories

The saints had some pretty incredible lives from being suddenly saved from near death to sleeping for 100 years, being surrounded by lions to almost drowning. Their miraculous dreams and adventurous lives are full of wondrous details. In fact, the Cloisters is filled with incredible stories from dragons to griffins to unicorn hunts, dancing apes to wild men: these stories have it all. Let’s figure them out together.  

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The Medieval World: Knights, Pilgrims, Romances, and Castles

This tour introduces children and families to the medieval world. What was life like for a knight in 1202? How heavy was chainmail? Who took care of kids in a castle? Who was William of Orange and why did he capture the Queen? Looking at architecture and wall paintings, mirrors, jewellery boxes, chess pieces, and playing cards, along with many other works, we find out what the medieval world would have sounded and smelled like, the epic journeys of pilgrims, and lives of kings.

© 2023 by MATT WHITBY. Proudly created with Wix.com

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