Sunday, September 25, 2011

Museum Day

Today was our town's annual Museum Day, on which dozens of fantastic museums open their doors without charging admission.  It's a great day for families to visit new-to-them museums as well as old favorites.  My husband and I had spent the early morning running a charity 5K, but as soon as we got home, we loaded up the kids and hit the cultural scene.

First, we strolled through the Umlauf Sculpture Garden, a beautiful urban forest filled with gifts of art.  When my oldest was a baby, we frequented Umlauf, but with three kids, visits have been rarer.  These are a few of my favorites pieces:

Mother and Child

another Mother and Child

The Family

And this is some of the scenery:

While there, the kids also got to make their own works of art from modeling clay.

(That's a pirate snowman standing on the mast of a pirate ship that's crashed into rocks, 
in case you were wondering.)

After Umlauf, we headed to the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, one of my daughter's favorite places.  The kids made water wheels and then watched Rumpelstiltskin, a puppet show presented by Literature Live.  We toured the galleries; the kids especially loved  the NASA exhibit.

Had my daughters not then started throwing tantrums over elevator-button-pressing-rights, our next stop would have been the Blanton Museum of Art, which we've visited several times before, and where even the atrium is an art installation.  This is "Stacked Waters," by Teresita Fernandez:


Isn't it stunning?

The Blanton has beautiful, unique exhibits which enthrall all of our children.  Like this one:

It's by Cildo Meireles, called Missao/Missoes [How to Build Cathedrals], and consists of 600,000 coins connected to 2000 cattle bones by 800 communion wafers.  The piece references the connections between wealth, agricultural exploitation, and religion in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Jesuit missions in South America.  It's a fascinating commentary for adults to contemplate, but from a toddler's perspective, it's really cool because the docents allow visitors to play with the coins. My children can sit here for hours, in a coppery glow, as they move the pennies around, stack them, try to count them...

My kids also really adore this film installation, called "Swimmer," which creates the illusion of a swimming pool on the museum floor.  A man backstrokes across the pool while staring straight at you; the sound of splashing water fills the gallery.  It feels so real that even adult visitors are tempted to dip their toes in the water.

The Blanton is a terrific museum for adults and children; we especially love their regular storytimes.

Our original plan also included a picnic at the Austin Museum of Art's Laguna Gloria, with its tranquil lakeside gardens.  During nicer weather, we often take our breakfast there on early weekend mornings because it's close to home and yet feels a world away.


Alas, the Blanton and Laguna Gloria were not meant to be today; instead, we came home and had mandatory naptime...for the parents. ;-)  But we were glad we took advantage of some of our town's offerings today; it made us feel more connected to our community and appreciative of our cultural environment.  If you are ever in Austin, check out our museum scene; it's worth the time.


  1. What a rich a lovely day! Sometimes you just have to make the effort to go for the good stuff! Thanks for sharing!

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