Fingerpainting the Moon: art museums and cube art

Ever since the show opening, followed by teaching a workshop, I’ve been feeling the need to hibernate, recoup a bit. Actually I got a little sick, which forced me to slow down. I remembered just today though that I wanted to write a post about a visit to the Museum of Contemporary Art that I did with my son in February.

One of the perks of living in a big city like Chicago are the museums, galleries, and cultural events that are constantly taking place year round. I have found that Chicago is such a family friendly city and there are programs everywhere created just for kids. Last month Noah and I went to Family Day at the MCA and we had so much fun.

Family Day at the MCA was really great because I think that most people would not equate the Museum of Contemporary Art as a place you would normally bring a toddler or a child. The art is hard enough for adults to grasp…..but interestingly enough, it seems that children are able to do it more easily! Perhaps because they don’t have set definitions of what is art and what isn’t art.

In front of Alan Sonfist’s “Earth Monument to Chicago” during our scavenger hunt

We did a scavenger hunt through the museum to find artwork. We were given a sheet that had nine squares. Each square contained a detail of a painting, sculpture or installation piece. The scavenger hunt forced us to look at the art in a different way and really engaged the children to really look at what was in front of them.

The Museum also had several hands-on activities for the kids to get busy with. There was a chalk board wall with holes cut out so that the kids could draw interesting characters and then put their faces to them. There was also an enormously long table piled with fabric rings made out of hose and the kids were told to make things with various knots and ties. But our personal favorite was making art out of sugar cubes!

getting to work

Another enormously long table had been set out with piles of sugar cubes and piles of markers. We were then given a clear plastic box. The docent talked to the kids about making marks and designs on the cubes and putting them together to make a bigger piece of art. She referenced an artist who did just this with a big installation piece, but of course since it’s been more than a month now, I can’t remember who it was.


This quickly became a team effort, otherwise we would have been there for hours drawing a design on each sugar cube face! Although there was one little girl who I believe sat there for at least an hour diligently decorating her sugar cubes, while her mom stood behind her. I don’t have that much patience, besides I didn’t want to miss out on the fun.

almost done!

Our sugar cube sculpture sits on our kitchen counter now and Noah likes to tell anyone who visits that it is artwork and that they can’t eat it.

I thought this was a great project and to make your own cube sculpture all you need are markers, sugar cubes, a clear plastic container of some sort, and a lot of patience.


I highly recommend bringing little ones to an art museum and finding a fun way to engage them in art. I thought the scavenger activity was a brilliant idea. And for those who have been to the MCA and are concerned about exposing young eyes to imagery that may seem too mature or violent or just too plain weird, the wonderful people at the museum post signs in front of the entryway to some of the exhibit rooms that warn you to use your judgement before bringing kids in.


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