On Toddlers and Art Museums

This appears as a guest post on Charm City Moms, the Baltimore Sun parenting blog by Kate Shatzkin.

The art museums in Baltimore are free these days. I'm sure you DC types are thinking, "Wait, you used to pay to get into museums? Silly Baltimorons." But yes, we used to pay to get into the likes of the Walters Art Museum and the Baltimore Museum of Art. And it wasn't exactly a bargain. So now that it's free admission, taking your child to the art museum on a whim is no longer reserved for the "ladies who lunch" set.

I've taken my 18-month old, Edwin, to the Baltimore Museum of Art on a few occasions since he's learned to walk. We usually go on a Friday morning, and besides a few school groups we are often the only ones there. Edwin LOVES the contemporary art section upstairs. It has touchable sculpture, cool installations, a beaded curtain, and vast expanses of floor that he can run the length of (screeching with glee, naturally). Trust me, after being cooped up in our 1200-square foot Lauraville bungalow, it is a big treat for him.

I am under the impression that this is a kid-friendly museum. The guards have always been very tolerant, indicating that it is OK for Edwin to touch certain things, and not seeming to mind him running from room to room and being a toddler. I've even gotten a few "Aww, he's so cute!" comments from the guards. (Because he is, of course.)

Recently, however, we decided to go on a Saturday. We went early, and while it was not crowded, there were several other patrons. Suddenly we were those parents: the ones who let their toddler run willy-nilly through an art museum using his "outside" voice. There were people there actually trying to contemplate art. And what I might describe as "jubilant" and "adorable" behavior, these patrons might describe as "raucous" and "annoying". So after receiving a couple looks that said, "Your kid is not cute; ever heard of Super Nanny?" we escaped to the sculpture garden where he could run screaming to his heart's content.

The lesson here? The BMA is a great place for toddlers on a weekday. On the weekend, I think I'll stick to the sculpture garden until Edwin masters his inside/outside voice. Or until I become OK with being one of those parents.


Kate said...

That's funny - we tried the Denver Art Museum with Ian a couple of times when he was Edwin's age, and same problem. We tried again last weekend, now that he is a mature 2 and 1/2, and it was awesome. He actually wanted to look at the art, was able to be quiet - he loved it. But then there was Alex, who at 13 months told us in no uncertain terms that museums are for sissies. So - maybe next year. I hate being THOSE parents.

But yes, you are at least lucky that Edwin is such a cutie! Surely it tempers some of the responses...

CaraBee said...

I hadn't even considered taking Sophie to the BMA or Walters yet. She is SO rowdy, I think even the most tolerant guards might not look on us so favorably. Sigh. Maybe someday.

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