I’ve written before that The Walters is our favorite art museum in Baltimore; it’s wonderful for families with frequent art projects, a friendly atmosphere, a decent cafe and themed art scavenger hunts (and of course, free admission). The girls have had two birthday parties there, and it has a special place in our family life.
Yesterday, however, I took my girls to another art museum here in Baltimore, and I think we may have a new second-favorite art museum. I’ve always enjoyed my trips to the BMA, and it’s situated in such a lovely and walkable neighborhood (our old one), and I used to walk the girls there in their stroller and then let them run around in the sculpture. However, I always thought of it as more of a classic art museum, the kind where people walk slowly through the galleries and speak in hushed tones, so once the girls were older, we kind of switched allegiances.
But after seeing some mentions of family activities, I decided to take the girls there yesterday, and we had a great time! They have definitely made a deliberate effort to have more family activities; though the art classroom was a little chaotic when we got there, once we settled in, we had a blast making a family of telephone-wire figures and little houses for them to live in. Then we stopped at the front desk and picked up the family audio tour, run on handy electronic devices and keyed to twenty different paintings and sculptures around the museum. My girls both really enjoyed the persona of Matisse’s schnauzer, which leads you through the tour, and loved hearing all the information about the artist and the paintings. The guided questions were helpful to draw their attention to different aspects, and I also appreciated that the tour includes students from the Baltimore School for the Arts, of which my husband is a proud alum and a fantastic city institution.
Of course, my girls also enjoyed the tour because they could listen to my own voice: my poem “Strange Fruit” is still featured in the museum’s 60 Objects: Countless Stories audio tour, which is accessible through the same devices as the family tour. I admit that the thrill of experiencing my poem as part of the museum never gets old; I continue to be incredibly proud of its inclusion, and absolutely love thinking of all the visitors who might have listened to it over the past year. But watching my own girls grin from ear-to-ear and punch the numbers in over and over to hear my voice speaking poetry back at them was a special little thrill all its own.
We walked back to our car in the drizzling rain and talked about all the art we had seen and the great time we had had, and I’m pretty sure we’ll be back.