All this past week, LACMA offered free admission for residents in zip codes along the transport route of the big rock. That was us! It has probably been 10 years since I have last been to LACMA, so I used the “free” excuse to load up the kids (my two youngest are ages 5 and 8), along with a good friend, and drive to LA too see the museum. Earlier in the week, another friend asked if LACMA was kid friendly, and I said yes! But now I have a first-hand account. Here’s what appealed to my kids:
The first thing my kids saw was this outdoor sculpture. It’s called Penetrabile by Jesus Rafael Soto, and it has long plastic tubing hanging down that you can walk through. My kids called it the spaghetti scultpure. It was a fun sensory experience. We passed this way several times, and my kids were always excited to give it another try.
LACMA has lots of funky outdoor sculpture and installations. These were by far the things my kids enjoyed the most. They had fun chasing each other through Chris Burden’s “Urban Light” installation:
We all were fascinated by the way the wind and water moved Alexander Calder’s stabile grouping, “Hello Girls“:
Another fun, but kind of stinky, thing to do was to walk over to the La Brea Tar Pits. My daughter couldn’t believe the way the pits bubbled and popped (she was sure an alligator was going to jump out and scare us). My son was fascinted by the recreations of mammoths in the pit (he wanted to go to the Page Museum next door instead!).
And, then, of course, was the installation we came for: “Levitated Mass” by Michael Heizer. This was easily our favorite. My youngest son was absolutely fascinated. We had to walk under it both ways. He was brave enough to stand underneath for some time. Then we had to walk around on either side of it so he could touch it. He enjoyed the rock, and he loved the channel. In fact, we all really enjoyed the experience of the rock.
The kids grew more impatient each time we went into the painting galleries, so we kept those forrays short and interspersed between the outdoor installations. I did get to spend a few good moments with LACMA’s Cezanne’s (my favorite artist), but as the selections here are far from his best work, a few moments were enough (this time). We breezed through the European galleries, and glanced at some wonderful Indian art, and poked our heads in the different buildings just to get some flavor of the other cultural art, but, as I said, the kids tired of this much quicker. Still, we got some exposure and discussion, and I’ll just have to keep working on it.
I had looked online ahead of time for what options they had available for kids, and the website mentions that you can check out a family guide with art cards.
But when I asked about it at the ticket booth, the employee didn’t seem to know what I was talking about. He directed me to the kids room instead. I figured I would ask another person about it later, but we were kept so busy that I never felt the need. Still, I think something like these cards would have helped the kids enjoy the inside galleries a little more. As for the kids room, I’m glad we didn’t start with it, as it made a perfect break in the middle of our day.
In this room, the kids were offered paper and brushes, and they could sit and create their own watercolor paintings. My children made three or four paintings and we sat and relaxed for about half an hour. This room was definitely a highlight of our day.
After three hours at the museum, we were all pretty tired, but there was one more thing I wanted my kids to see (having read about it on the website beforehand): Chris Burden’s “Metropolis II.” We were just in time to see it turned on again, and it was spellbinding:
The website calls it “an intense kinetic sculpture, modeled after a fast paced, frenetic modern city.” Indeed, I had to look away for periods of time because it made me feel dizzy. But the kids really, really LOVED this. And then, to end the day, we explored one more installation in the room next to Metropolis. This was called “Band,” by Richard Serra, but my youngest child called it the volcano rooms (because of the shape and color).
“Band” was a massive installation of undulating walls that curved in on themselves making different caves and rooms. The kids ran in and out and danced around (the echoes were nearly deafening in the interior spaces–adding to the appeal, of course). And after nearly four hours in and around the museum, we called it quits for the day. We barely scratched the surface of all the exhibits (especially the indoor ones), but we were catering to the kids, and I know that they had a positive and memorable experience.