We went to the BMA specifically because I remember being completely amazed by the contemporary art section as a kid, and I figured Violet would get a kick out of the bright colors and abstract squiggle bullshit too. So it would be just my luck that that wing of the museum was closed that day, yep. I'd already paid my parking though and it is not in my nature to give money to machines for no reason, so I accepted the challenge and took the opportunity to practice my discipline techniques (read: I'm a jew and we will stay here for 2 hours, damnit).
We probably could have skipped the inside of the museum, to be honest.
I figured the next best thing to contemporary art would be the expressionist stuff, so we made a left at Matisse and Violet started screaming about a circus or something. I was actually really impressed by some of the things she picked out of the paintings. We had brought along her Abby Cadabby notepad and a marker so I had her sit down in front of paintings she liked and draw something related. It was really adorable and also mesmorizing to think about what her little brain thought she was drawing. I saw *plaarbbbttt*, but she probably saw a flying elephant playing a saxophone over top a sea full of boats (those were all her favorite paintings).
We checked out some sculptures too. I had Violet attempt to recreate the position of the sculpture if it was human, or tell me what sound it made if it was animal or unidentifiable. Some weird 3 legged tower thing barked at us, so that was cool. We passed by The Thinker and I asked her what he was thinking about. She told me "His mommy and daddy." Oh! Now you know.
The owl rock says Hooo.
Other hits were the furniture dioramas ("doll houses") and the African and Ancient America sections ("ooo, spooky masks!"), but nothing did it like the scuplture garden. Violet has a real appreciation for the juxtaposition of nature and slabs of bent steel. Or she was just so excited to use her outside voice that she would have done a cartwheel at a turd on the ground, whatever. (Actually she would ooh and aah at a turd on the ground at any time. Maybe not the best example.) Either way, the BMA's sculpture garden is the perfect balance of art and playtime for a toddler, and a beautiful place to have a quick lunch before your nipples freeze off in the autumn air.
This giant balancing thing is hilarious!
The best part of this trip was that somehow I really beat it into Violet's head that she COULD NOT TOUCH ANYTHING in the museum or we would get in big trouble. She repeated it all day long too, hours after we were home - "We can't touch da 'zeum. We get in biiiiiig trouble." It somehow flashed me back to before I was pregnant, how I used to say I couldn't wait to have kids so that I could lie to them, and how now would be a great time to lie to my kid! So for a few days, when we were out I would tell her we were at the museum. Furniture store? Sofa museum. Grocery store? Food museum. Target? Deodorant museum. It kept her little hands from grabbing at everything or climbing on anything. Eventually I forgot about it and she did too, but it would be worth another trip to the museum soon to have that little trick up my sleeve again.
So yeah, art museums have my official endorsement for toddler consumption.
P.S. Leela was there too.