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Dad-Tested Tips for Taking Your Son to the Art Museum

Do little boys enjoy going to the art museum? Heck yeah! Three tips for success from a dad-son duo

Luken Murphy in the Getty Center's Museum Entrance Hall

Museums are magic! Luken Murphy in the Getty Center’s Museum Entrance Hall holding a set of Art Detective Cards, which guide families on a treasure hunt through the galleries. Photo (minus creatures) courtesy of Brian Murphy

We love when you email/tweet/Instagram us photos of your visit. Recently visitor Brian Murphy sent in this Blackberry snap of his 20-month-old son Luken at Getty Center, saying they’d seen lots of art and had a great time. (That’s right, he uses a Blackberry. He’s a Classic Dad.)

In addition to all the free programs we offer for families, an unstructured day at the Museum can be so much fun, too. In honor of Father’s Day, I asked Brian to share a few of his personal tips on how to orchestrate an awesome big dude–little dude day at the museum.

Brian and Luken Murphy

Dad and son time. Brian and Luken Murphy out and about

1. See Tons of Stuff.

Brian likes to keep little visitors interested by “speed viewing” lots of different things. After taking in some of the exhibitions, making masks and hunting for art treasures in the Family Room, and checking out the Rembrandt gallery “to see why he’s so cool,” Brian and Luken took a long walk through the gardens and then checked out the spectacular views over L.A. Pretty impressive for a 20-month old.

2. Appreciate the Small Things.

No matter when you go or what you see, “there’s always something at a museum that you didn’t expect.” Keep your eye out for unusual artworks, views, or moments you’ll want to remember. “Keep your head on swivel.” Let your son find what’s magical for him.

3. Take the Experience Home.

And the real secret to having a great day with your son at the museum? Love it too. Be as open to the experience as you’d hope he would be, and take that with you after you leave. “From the architecture to the art hanging from the walls,” Brian said, “take the energy and inspiration from this and make sure it becomes part of your life. Always believe!”

How do you make a museum visit fun and memorable for kids? Share your ideas with other dads below, or take Brian’s lead and email us.

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Great resources for dads (and moms):

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      #ProvenancePeek: Shark Attack!

      Every art object has a story—not only of how it was made, but of how it changed hands over time until it found its current home. That story is provenance.

      This dynamic painting of a 1749 shark attack in Havana, Cuba, by John Singleton Copley was too good to paint only once. The original hangs at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. A second full-sized version of the painting, which Copley created for himself, was inherited by his son and eventually gifted to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

      The third version (shown here) is slightly reduced in size, with a more vertical composition. It resides in the Detroit Institute of Arts.

      A quick peek into the digitized stock and sales books of art dealer M. Knoedler & Co. at the Getty Research Institute shows the sale of Copley’s masterpiece. It was entered under stock number A3531 in July 1946 and noted as being sold to the Gallery by Robert Lebel, a French writer and art expert. The Knoedler clerk also carefully records the dimensions of the painting—30 ¼ x 36 inches, unframed.

      On the right side of the sales page you’ll find the purchaser listed as none other than the Detroit Institute of Arts. The corresponding sales book page gives the address: Woodward Ave, Detroit, Mich., still the location of the museum.

      Watson and the Shark, 1782, John Singleton Copley. Detroit Institute of Arts

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      #ProvenancePeek is a monthly series by research assistant Kelly Davis peeking into #onthisday provenance finds from the M. Knoedler & Co. archives at the Getty Research Institute.

      02/10/16

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