Kimbell Kids: Looking at Art with Your Children

Planning a family visit to the Kimbell? Looking at art together promises unlimited possibilities for adult and children of all ages and interests . . .

            “Wow—that statue is how old?”

            “Look, a train station. When do we get to ride a train again? Do you think this train has a loud whistle? Woot, woot!”

            “I see red, blue, AND purple. All of my favorite colors in one picture.”

Looking forward to those conversations that will last the entire car ride home? Here are a few tips for ensuring that everyone in your entourage has a comfortable and inspiring Museum visit:

Prepping for your visit at home:

  • Ask your children what they anticipate seeing when they visit the Kimbell. Create some interest before you arrive.
  • Visit the Kimbell’s collection online to see what artworks will be on view.
  • Talk with your children about the Museum manners outlined below.

Museum manners:

  • Look with your eyes and not your hands. Our artworks are very old and fragile, so please do not touch!
  • Use your words instead of your fingers to describe what you are looking at. In other words, please do not point!
  • Leave backpacks, food, and drinks at the free Parcel Checks, located on the lower level of the Kahn Building and in the lobby of the Piano Pavilion.
  • Silence cell phones in the galleries.
  • Feel free to take photographs in our permanent collection, but please do not use the flash! Photography is not permitted in special exhibitions.

Once you are in the doors:

  • Don’t try to see too much in one visit. Gauge your child’s interest, and keep them wanting more. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes, depending on your child’s age. Make sure to take breaks!
  • Stop by Visitor Services in either of the Museum’s buildings.
  • Mention “Kimbell Kids.” Children who say one Museum rule will receive a “Kimbell Kids” sticker.
  • Pick up thematic family gallery guides or borrow “picture-cards” highlighting Kimbell masterpieces. You can locate works of art, read fun facts, or use the discussion questions to spark lively conversations together!
  • Pick up a free audio tour with family-friendly stops.

Looking at art:

  • Ask questions as you are looking: What do you notice first? What else do you see? What is going on in this picture? What makes you say that? 
  • Encourage careful looking. Ask children to describe their favorite details, name colors and shapes, or list the materials used by the artist. The more we look, the more we see!
  • Use your imagination. Ask kids how it would feel to be inside the picture. What sounds or smells would they encounter? Encourage them to make up stories based on what they see. Ask them to imagine what just happened just before the picture, or what will happen next.

This masterpiece is a favorite with visitors of all ages. Here are a few family conversation starters:

  • What do you see happening here? Would you want to play with these men? Who is cheating? How do you know? What do you think will happen next?
  • How would you describe their expressions? What is each man thinking about?
  • Caravaggio was a great artist who really knew how to put a painting together. What grabs your attention first? Where does your eye travel next?  What shapes and lines do you see? How do they carry your eye around the picture?
  • How many lines do you see on the young man’s shirt? Caravaggio used them to create a pattern. A pattern is a line or shape that repeats. Where else do you see patterns? What colors do you notice in each man’s outfit?

Have a fun, memorable visit to the Kimbell! We hope to see you often!