Who knew my 5-year-old son was a fan of modern art? I had no idea until he spent time exploring the modern works on the upper floors of The High with our family tour docent. They played peekaboo through 11 layers of glass in Gerhard Richter’s installment 11-Scheiben. Our interactive visit gave birth to a new art fan!
The family tour, given every weekend free with admission, is suitable for all ages and keeps a quick pace to ensure interest stays high. During the hour, our docent had us viewing and learning about old masterpieces, modern installments and everything in between. We explored American, African, and European art of different eras, along with folk and contemporary art.
I was surprised at how engaged my son stayed, and proud that he stuck to the “hands off” policy the entire visit. We felt like VIPs as our guide pointed out for us a few pieces on every floor, especially works we would most likely have overlooked. Be ready for other patrons to lean in and listen at your stops, as the docents offer background information on works only a true art enthusiast would know. For example, The High’s collection includes a painting by Samuel Morse (who developed Morse code.) He was New York’s top portrait painter of his time; a trained artist in addition to being a famous inventor.
The guide frequently asked my son questions, prompting him to notice and point out certain things within specific works. She would ask him “What is the angel carrying?” or “What do you notice about the woman in this sculpture?” Based on his responses she would lead him to explore what the artist intended by how a subject was positioned or what props surrounded her. This not only made learning seem like a game, but also held his attention while we sampled art from different time periods and mediums, and glimpsed different civilizations throughout history.
As the docent concluded the tour at Anish Kapoor’s multi-sensory and dimensional large mirrored acoustic bowl-like structure, she asked my son to whisper something “secret style” that she would be able to hear clearly from across the room far from the art. Not surprisingly, he whispered, “Can we play some more?”
– Valerie Shepherd
Guided Family Weekend Tour
High Museum. 1280 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta
Hours: Sat.-Sun., 2 p.m.
Cost: Adults, $19.50; ages 6-17, $12; 5 and younger, free.