Memorial Day has always signaled the beginning of summer for me–probably because that’s when the pool in our neighborhood would officially open its gates, and no matter how many snow days we had that year, we would always be out of school by then! That being said, there are a ton of things that you can do with your family at the Dallas Museum of Art this summer, like First Tuesdays, Late Nights, and other summer programming. Looking for something a little bit more low-key? Don’t be afraid to bring your families to the galleries on your own! We kicked off the opening of the Art of the American Indians: The Thaw Collection at the end of April with a Family Celebration, but this kid-friendly collection will be here all summer. There are lots of fun things that you can do with your family inside! I brought my roommate, fellow McDermott Curatorial intern of Ancient and Asian art Madelyn Strubelt into the galleries to test out some activities. See below for some of the ways we had fun!
1. Count: One of the easiest things to do in the galleries is count! Turn walking through the exhibition into a game. Try counting stars, bowls, flags, or articles of clothing. You’ll be surprised at how many you can find!
2. Plan a Party: In the Northwest Coast section of the exhibition, there are several bowls, spoons, and costumes that were used in an American Indian ritual called a pot-latch ceremony. Similar to potlucks, in these ceremonies members of the community cooked a variety of foods and came together in celebration. These community feasts were also accompanied by music, dancing, and party favors. Pretend to plan one of these ceremonies—what kinds of foods would you cook? What kinds of materials would you use to make your costumes? What types of gifts would you give?
3. Create a Title: Make up your own titles for works of art in the collection. When we looked at the Woman’s Dance Fans, we came up with titles like: Demon Snow Clowns, Flutter Faces, Wishing Stars, and Happy Sad Feather People. What other titles can you think of?
4. Strike a Pose: Turn the galleries into a runway by posing like the works of art!
5. Practice Your Metero-ART-ology: Each gallery in the Art of the American Indians: The Thaw Collection exhibition is highlights a different region of North America. Look closely at the objects in each gallery and see if you can determine what the weather was like in those regions. Then, think about giving 5-day forecasts for the region! Consider what kinds of clothes you would need to wear or supplies (like an umbrella or sunscreen) that you should have on hand. m
6. Be Drawing Detective: Before coming to the museum, gather some colored pencils and create a “detective notebook” by stapling several pieces of blank paper together. Then, challenge your super sleuth to one of these cases: create a scene using one object from each room, search for repeating colors and patterns, design a modern-day version of some of the objects, or create a mythical animal using parts of different animal depictions !
8. Acting Adventure: Many of the works in the Thaw Collection depict traditional American Indian stories. Find a piece with rich imagery like the Oystercatcher Bird Rattle and come up with a story to go along with the images. Then, display your theatrical skills by acting out your story!
There are a ton of entertaining things that you can do in the galleries as a family! Just put on your thinking caps and remember to bring your imaginations!
posted by: Jackie