With so many great activities in Chicago it’s sometimes hard to choose what to do on a weekend day. But this Saturday (Nov 9th), I encourage you to bring your children (especially those 10 and under) to The Family Day at The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. The second Saturday of every month, this amazing museum hosts a family fun day free of charge. I brought Little & Middle last month and they had a blast. The MCA really has this figured out for kids and parents. First, it’s free of charge for families with children 12 and under (what parent doesn’t like that). Second, as soon as we entered the museum, they handed each of my kids a program listing of all the activities that they could do and a sheet of stickers that they could use to check off each station (talk about motivating the kids to explore a museum). We were barely 3 feet in the door and museum volunteers were already engaging them in an obstacle course (after which they got to put their stickers on the program). We then walked through the photography exhibit where they were captivated by the larger than life photographs.
At the next station they were asked to create art out of garbage. To say they were in heaven is an understatement. Down on the floor they plopped and using garbage from the MCA (which I must admit looks a lot different then the garbage in my house), and copious amounts of masking tape they created massive structures. Again museum volunteers were on hand to help with the tape and to encourage the kids to build out their creations. It was understood that all masterpieces were going to be assembled together in the middle of the gallery successfully eliminating any tears about not being able to bring our creations home. Other activities included creating leaves out of paper and stencils, a balloon installation where the children all got to play with balloons and see how long they could keep them up in the air, and a fun shadow and dance experience. All of these activities plus a 20 minute break for snacks kept us at the museum for 3+ hours which is some kind of record for us. Not once did I hear “can we go now?”.
Puck’s cafe located in the museum, is a nice stop if your kids need a little fuel break and the food is really good but I caution you that some of the kid’s items take 20 minutes to prepare. I bought some trail mix and cookies and then we went to nearby Bar Toma for a great albeit late lunch (full post and review coming soon). The theme for November 9th’s family day is exploring the exhibition: The Way of the Shovel. Kids will dig through objects of all shapes and sizes and tell stories with what they find.
I have to admit that I didn’t realize how family friendly the MCA was and I wish I had known when my kids were still happy to climb in their strollers. While at family fun day, I heard about MCA stroller tours which occur on the first Wednesday of each month, from 11:30 am–12:30 pm. There is one being held today. These guided tours are aimed at allowing you to look and talk about art with other adults while your little ones are happily ensconced in their strollers. Moms, dads, and caregivers are all welcome. Damn, how I wish I had known about this a few years back! (Although I suppose I could stuff Little back into her stroller). What I wouldn’t have given for a walk through a museum with other adults during the first few months.
And before you leave the museum, get a jump on your holiday shopping in the MCA store.
Family Days: Sat. Nov 9th: 11am, Sat Dec 14th 11am
Stroller Tours: Wed Nov. 6th: 11:30-12:30, Wed Dec 4th 11:30-12:30