You hope something sinks in. Whatever you put in front of your kids, whether it’s the tenth reminder to mow the grass this week, a hard truth, or the tiniest scraps of culture and education, you’re just hoping something, anything, resonates. And that’s how we find ourselves in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor during a rainy Memorial Day weekend throwing the proverbial arts and science spaghetti on the wall hoping that some of it sticks.
I’ve lost count of the number of science centers we’ve visited over the past 13 years, but it’s easily in the double digits. Whether these numerous visits led to my oldest child’s predisposition to science and math or he was just headed in that direction anyway is a debate probably best left to Randolph and Mortimer Duke. What I can tell you is that all three of my boys usually find something that sparks their imagination, and it’s interesting to see which exhibits appeal to each child.
The amount of actual science information that is imparted to my kids at these venues (through no fault of the museum’s themselves) is debatable. I have a feeling that launching paper airplanes, and punching buttons to make an electric arc appear are probably rewards in and of themselves for a 6-year-old. But as parent, you yearn for them to glean the tiniest bit more out of the experience.
Art museums too can be a sticky wicket for kids. What as a 40-year-old human you may find interesting and engaging in the art world can sometimes barely register for the elementary school set. The American Visionary Art Museum is a nice entry point into the art world for kids and adults alike. The museum describes Visionary Art as, “art produced by self-taught individuals, usually without formal training, whose works arise from an innate personal vision that revels foremost in the creative act itself.” What this translates into is a lot of art pieces and sculptures made out of popsicle sticks, lunchboxes, and even burnt toast. I think a kid can look at many of the pieces in the American Visionary Art Museum and see their interests and experiences reflected back at them more so than at a more traditional gallery.
Obviously, I’m a person who values creativity and believes its influence can be applied well beyond artistic expression alone. And of course, I want my children to fully absorb that the act of creation and pushing the boundaries of what can be imagined into reality is an integral aspect of success and fulfillment in modern life.
Honestly though, they probably just thought that seeing the Swedish Chef from the Muppets made entirely out of marshmallow Peeps was pretty cool. Hopefully, some of that bigger picture stuff snuck in around the backdoor.
American Visionary Art Museum
800 Key Highway, Baltimore, Maryland 21230
Maryland Science Center
601 Light Street, Baltimore, MD 21230