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Art museum’s Van Gogh program to engage families, kids

By Daryl Rowlands
Special to the Beacon Journal

CLEVELAND: There’s something about the work of the painter Vincent Van Gogh that seems to spark an interest in art and painting for many children.

It may be the vivid colors or the swirling brush-strokes that typify the artist’s well-known work, but whatever the reason, Van Gogh’s canvasses have been the gateway through which generations of children have entered into the world of fine art.

On Sunday, The Cleveland Museum of Art’s children’s program, Second Sundays, features an interactive event called Go, Go Van Gogh!, celebrating the work of Van Gogh.

Families are invited to visit the exhibit from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and enjoy free art-making activities and programs for all ages, which include dance, music and hands-on projects.

Participating artists of all ages can try their hand at painting like Van Gogh, work with other visitors to create a Japanese screen, and help make a work of art in motion in the Ames Family Atrium.

To help children understand Van Gogh’s use of repetition — using the same images or subject matter repeatedly with subtle variations — children can take the Double Vision scavenger hunt through the galleries.

Seema Rao, the museum’s Director of Intergenerational Learning, said the program is set up to put guests at ease, both with the museum and with art.

“We want families to feel comfortable and relaxed, and that includes the parents.”

The Intergenerational Learning Department has done research, asking visitors questions about what they enjoy and what makes them uncomfortable. What they’ve discovered is that families come to the museum to spend time with each other. So the programs are designed to let parents interact with their children, with some guidance from museum staff.

“We make sure there is plenty of mac and cheese and we give parents what they need to guide their children through the activities,” Rao said. “So if we ask the children a question, we make sure the parents have the answers on the cards we give out.”

Second Sundays are usually built around whatever is going on at the museum at that time, said Rao. The March event takes its inspiration from two current exhibits at the Museum: the Van Gogh Repetitions, curated by the museum and the Phillips Collection, and Remaking Tradition: Modern Art of Japan from the Tokyo National Museum.

Sunday’s program invites families to make prints to better understand the way artists use repetition, and to draw a connection between Japanese print-making and Van Gogh’s use of repetition.

Another scheduled activity has families taking Instagram photos using different backgrounds and props, as a way to replicate Van Gogh’s iconic paintings, where the same images are repeated using different colors and treatments.

“What’s so great is that families are making a monthly date to come to the Cleveland Museum of Art,” said Rao. “These days it’s hard for parents to find things to do with their kids and I think people are craving that. And we get to give them that. For free.”

Upcoming Second Sunday programs include Museum Ambassadors Community Day on April 13 and Tales from India on May 11.

Second Sunday events are always offered free of charge. For those wishing to view the related museum exhibits, adult combination tickets for Van Gogh Repetitions and Remaking Tradition: Modern Art of Japan from the Tokyo National Museum are $20 each and include admission to both exhibitions.

The exhibition is free for museum members. Combination tickets must be purchased by phone at 216-421-7350 or in person.


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