Art and Play at the Gallery at Tempe Center for the Arts

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School is out and my kids might be thinking this means weeks of unlimited video games. If we stay home in cool comfort, they will surely get more screen time than is recommended, even after zipping through the art projects and science experiments we have been waiting to try.

As hot as it might be, we are getting away from the lure of the screens to visit some places that exercise the critical thinking and creativity skills they have worked hard to gain.

We have been playfully introducing our boys to galleries and museums outside of children-specific, editing our experience to suit a preschooler and two in early elementary. Though these visits have been few (and at least one was aggravating), I learned a lot. I found that large galleries and collections require a lot of planning and keeping to the highlights for a fun and brief visit. Small galleries appeal because they take so little time, but few are as engaging for our family as the Gallery at Tempe Center for the Arts.

We have seen three of the recent rotating exhibits in the beautiful, open space, and there was just enough that we could observe and talk about any piece that sparked their interest without ever going over the threshold of grade-schooler focus. Exhibits always have an interactive area that invites my kids to play or create. In costuming, they had a trunk of items to dress up with and a stage-like backdrop. The Western art exhibit had auction podiums to stand in and a collection of vintage toys that my boys loved to discuss with the welcoming docent. The current biomimicry exhibit has an area where visitors of all ages can color a nature pattern and submit it in a drawing for a Biomimicry t-shirt.

This can be a spontaneous stop, but if you plan ahead you could experience even more. Artists in residence guide a STEAM event on Saturdays from noon until 2pm with dates listed through July. Even more programming is listed on their website: Gallery at TCA. There is no charge for admission, but you can leave a donation to support future exhibits.

My family is still relatively new to experiencing art galleries together. What galleries does your family enjoy? How do you help your family experience art?

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