In the first part, the kids enjoyed a trip to the Air Force Museum even though it was too large to see everything. In this part second, we visited the Dayton Art Institute, a relatively small art museum with a very nice collection. Neither of the geeky kids have much experience at all with an art museum, so it was a delight to watch their reactions to it.
- Pets: absolutely not.
- Terrain: Flat and level with elevators if wanted.
- Cost: $8 ticket for the adult, children’s admission is free
I highly recommend that unless you have a young artist, approaching the collections from a historical standpoint may be more appealing to the young geeks. In this case, I knew both of them had read Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, and that one of them really wanted to see the Asian collection because Batman. (Evidently Bruce Wayne is a collector of Asian art and weapons). I knew that their books and interests would give me a lead into interesting them in what the museum had to offer, and we began at the beginning, with the oldest art, which is roughly grouped by continents.
The Little Man was very interested in the pre-Columbian and African art, mostly for the playful representations of animals, and the use of colorful beads and shells in making weird masks.
We wound up spending the bulk of our time in the Asian art section. Not only for the swords, which they were happy to stand and look at, but the playful nature of the Japanese art I was able to point out to them, having been there before. From the bronze bunnies and bantam rooster, to the intricate ivory netsuke, they were willing to let me show them more here than in any other collection.
From the lower levels we went up to the Ancient Greeks and Romans, where my daughter was happy to see real amphorae and a lovely bronze of Thesus fighting the Minotaur, concrete examples of things she had read about.
I’ll insert a note here that some museums allow photography, while others do not. It would be interesting to go again, giving the cameras to the kids, and see what really caught their eyes. I know the Jr. Mad Scientist took pictures on her cell phone – I must remember to ask her about those. However, make sure that the flash is disabled if you are shooting in the collections, the flash of light can be damaging to some artifacts. Also, reflections from glass cases become impossible to manage with a flash.
While into the European and Early American art, I learned that my daughter was very unhappy with the ‘naked people’ in the paintings, and astonished that the armless headless statues were not a cliche, but a real thing. We passed through this area quickly to spare her tender teenage feelings.
We stopped for a rest in the Hale Cloister, enjoying the splashing of the fountain and all the different columns. Like most museums, it gets overwhelming after a while and they let me know they were ready to finish up and hit the giftshop. Our last area was the modern art, which both of them were… well, very honest in their view of what was on display.
We paused in the children’s section where my son played with the interactive exhibits a little, but it was too young for him, and the Jr Mad Scientist was only interested in the jellybean and butterfly installation.
We ended our visit in the giftshop, where again it seemed that the items were either too young for them, or too dull. Looking back at the trip, I would suggest more preparation, and not visiting when the children are already tired from the earlier part of the day. I think if we had spent some time with books on art, then gone to the museum to look at a specific area of interest, they would have gotten more out of this trip. We will have to try that again sometime.
On the other hand, they really did enjoy all of it, even the dramatic outrage (as only a ten-year old boy can muster) at the modern art. I am happy we made this expedition.