Free Art for Kids with LACMA’s NexGen Program

by on March 15th, 2015
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Free, Free, Free. The NexGen program at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art offers free gallery tours, free visits to the Boone Children’s Gallery and free art sessions in the courtyard most Sundays to children under age 18 and an accompanying adult. Sign up at the tables outside, put on your orange NexGen badge, and you’re good to go.

Since 2003, NexGen has offered workshops that compliment one of the exhibits currently shown in the museum. The activities are designed by a “pool of teaching artists who teach weekend art classes and workshops at schools and libraries” according to Karen Satzman, manager of art classes and family programs for LACMA. Each week features a new project. “Fortunately LACMA is an encyclopedic museum-so there’s no lack of themes,” Satzman said.

My children could sample three different activities on the day we visited. They immediately ran to the “Toddler Tarp,” an area designed for the under 5 crowd, where kids can channel their inner artists, unencumbered by chairs and tables. Two other art stations were designed for the older children in mind. Make sure you arrive early. By 3 pm, the glue sticks were tapped and the paper mache station, which looked really fun, was completely out of materials.

Next we headed to the Boone Children’s Gallery, which is located in the Korean Art Gallery. Friendly helpers brought us new paper and clean water, and were very tolerant of my daughter, who was a walking piece of performance art by the time she finished, painted head to toe and covered with glue and sequins.

Anyone can drop in and learn about Korean brush painting with watercolors. The increased visibility of its new location has drawn more visitors to the Boone Gallery, including adults, who may rarely have the opportunity to participate in creating art. “You don’t have to be a NexGen member or even a kid to visit the Boone Gallery,” Satzman said.

After all that hard work, the kids burned off some energy in the park between LACMA and the LA Brea Tar Pits. My son likes to stroll through the modern sculpture garden, and the giant hill leading up to the Tar pits museum has magical powers–no child could walk by it without running up and rolling down at least once.

Although we couldn’t find a picnic table, there was a stone amphitheater where we could eat our lunch. LACMA also has two restaurants, a causal cafeteria, and a snack stand.

NexGen is focusing on friendliness, “working with guards and staff to be very welcoming,” Satzman said. I can testify that it took tremendous strength of will for the guards not to freak out as my painty and gluey children approached the Buddahs in the Korean Art Gallery. Somehow they kept a smile on their faces.

NexGen happens most Sundays between 12:30 and 3:30. Did I mention it’s free? There’s plenty of paid parking in lots in front of and behind the museum, as well as some meters on Wilshire. For more information see www.lacma.org.


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