Explore the New SFMOMA With Kids
Children enjoying Pop, Minimal, and Figurative Art: The Fisher Collection exhibition at SFMOMA.
Vasna Wilson for Drew Altizer Photography, courtesy SFMOMA
Much has been written about the newly reopened San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, but what’s missing is how much the museum has done to keep children interested, excited and educated.
First, it’s free to anyone under age 18. SFMOMA also has worked closely with local school districts to create educational materials, and its website will offer downloadable kid-friendly art guides later this summer or fall. There is already an especially entertaining series of videos called “The Country Dog Gentlemen Series” where different artworks from the collection are explained using poetry, animation and jazz.
When you arrive you will be given a handout about what to do with kids that comes with some great suggestions. While this is helpful, the following will show you that there is even more to see and do!
Floor 1: Find yourself under an enormous mobile by Alexander Calder hanging below the Oculus Bridge. (Later on, you will have a harrowing opportunity to look down upon this mobile from that same bridge!) You can also slowly wind your way through Richard Serra’s enormous “Sequence” sculpture.
Floor 2: The home of the museum’s original collection. This floor includes childlike paintings by Paul Klee, the frustratingly clever “Fountain” by Marcel Duchamp, the “White Painting” by Robert Rauschenberg (where shadows become part of the art work) and an interactive exhibit where kids can learn about artists featured in the museum.
Floor 3: Here you will find the huge new “The Living Wall” of plants, rooms full of photos, the “Photography Interpretive Gallery” and the Calder room. In addition, at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., the museum puts one of the Calder sculptures, “Quattro Pendulatti,” in motion.
Floor 4: Besides kid-friendly works like Cy Twombly’s scribbles or Wayne Thiebaud’s “Confections,” there are two small windows that show the exact spot where the old museum meets the new one. Further evidence of this can be seen throughout the museum every time you notice two silver tracks on the floor.
Floor 5: This is where you can cross the Oculus Bridge and look down through the floor. Then, look for the giant apple by Clas Oldenburg, hyper-realistic paintings made from squares and circles by Chuck Close and a number of wall drawings by Sol LeWitt that your kids will be begging you to make at home!
Floor 6: The German painting exhibit is a good spot to show your kids how artists deal with tragedy and guilt. Also, some days at 1:30 p.m., Jürg Lehni’s “Viktor,” a machine that draws on a wall using chalk and guided by a randomized computer program, performs its function.
Floor 7: Watch the video of a soap bubble traveling through an abandoned apartment building, then visit a room with a disconcerting strobe light that houses an apparent melting ball of chrome. Finally, at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., someone from the museum rattles the “Supercatcher,” and you can watch the strange vibrations and hear its little bells chime.
Because the SFMOMA is still in the process of reopening, expect more family-friendly things to come in the future.
“Art Dad” Sean Nowicki lives in Oakland and leads Bay Area art field trips and classes for kids. Visit www.artdadsf.com for more information.
If You Go
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art www.sfmoma.org/visit/visiting-with-kids
151 Third St., San Francisco 415-357-4000
Open daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Thursdays until 9 p.m. Advance online ticket purchases are recommended.
Adult: $25; senior 65 and over: $22; Ages 19-24: $19; 18 and under FREE (but require a ticket).