Kudos if you have kids who can't wait to go out and see art with you. But if that does not rank high on their list and you are longing to get them interested in pictures that are not necessarily made from pixels, get them to a gallery.
While museums are also great family art outings, galleries are akin to hiding spinach and wheat germ in chocolate muffins: everyone's still eating the healthy stuff, but it's less obvious and goes down without a fight.
Why do galleries work easily for families?
Because there's a variety of work to see in a relatively short amount of time and the art is in front of you as soon as you walk in the door. As anyone with kids -- especially smaller kids -- can attest, keeping things moving is key to making an activity work. Even the phrase "gallery-hopping" is kinetic and peppy, as in "kids, let's go gallery-hopping today!" I can hear the squeals of joy already...
And lest you think you have to live in New York, LA, Chicago or some other major urban area, know this: there are about 6,500 galleries around the nation. Rural to urban, galleries are prevalent because artists are everywhere.
It might surprise you to know that New Mexico, Vermont, Hawaii and Montana rank first in fine artists per capita. (In pure numbers of artists, New York and California are top.) And more Americans identify their primary occupation as artist than as lawyer, doctor, police officer or farm worker.
So now that we've established that you'll be able to find a gallery near you, let's start a backlash to running errands or cleaning the house every Saturday or Sunday... doesn't visiting a gallery sound much more civilized and entirely less mind-numbing? Spend a few hours together as a family, have a dialogue about what resonates with each person... and remind your tween that the mall will still be there tomorrow.
To seal the deal, here are eight reasons to make galleries part of your family outings asap:
1) Compact gallery size means no whining about "museum legs."
3) Many galleries are relaxed about taking photographs so kids can update their Facebook page pics posing in front of really cool backdrops (a.k.a., art.)
4) The constant flow of going in and out of galleries leaves less time for boredom, fewer opportunities for accidental destruction.
5) Galleries often feature the fresh perspective of up-and-coming artists.
6) Start or add to an art collection without depleting the college fund (see #5 re: "up-and-coming artists")
7) Gallery staff is always on-site so you can ask questions and gain great insight about the art and artist.
8) In galleries, you get to the main attraction right away so there's less chance of total meltdown as you pass through the long hall of tapestries that connect you to your actual destination.