Nestled in the Palisades neighborhood of Washington D.C., the privately run Kreeger Museum is easy to overlook. Housed in the former residence of David and Carmen Kreeger, who made their fortune when Mr. Kreeger was Chairman of GEICO, the Kreeger museum boasts a large and varied collection of paintings and sculptures. The museum is not generally “kid friendly” during its regularly scheduled tours, but the museum’s well-presented storytime offers an opportunity for children to see the spectacular works of art on display in an age-appropriate manner.
Each storytime is built around a theme tied to works of art in the collection. Because the Kreegers had eclectic taste in art, themes vary widely from The Magic of African Art or Stepping into a Landscape to Building Beautiful Spaces. A recent program we attended focused on Discovering Shapes. When children arrived they were given a name tag and ushered into the lobby where they can look at books until the formal program begins. Children then listened to the rules of the museum and were given an introduction to the week’s theme beneath portraits of the Kreegers.
Next, children moved to another location within the mansion to view a work of art. On our recent visit, children were taken to the library where they had a view of two statutes comprised of different shapes and given a bag with lots of different foam shapes inside. Children were asked to explore the shapes in the bag with their hands before looking, an activity my son really enjoyed.
The program leader then talked about each shape, read a book about a blob that changes shapes, and asked children to look at sculptures just outside the library’s windows to see which shapes the artist used to create the sculptures. Next, children changed locations to look at two Picasso paintings and were asked to identify the many shapes Picasso used in creating his images and think about how he put the shape together to create recognizable figures.
Children then changed locations once again to go downstairs to view a sculpture of a house made of objects in many different shape. Finally, children went to the education room where they created their own works of art by gluing various shapes onto paper. After children completed their works of art they were given the opportunity to share the final product with the group. The results were interesting as some children, like my son, used shapes to make recognizable objects like a racecar while other children made abstract pieces grouping like shapes and colors.
Storytime lasts approximately one hour, with forty minutes dedicated to looking at artworks and reading a story and twenty minutes dedicated to an art project. Art projects vary based upon the theme, but can include clay, pastels, and glue. Storytime is held the first and third Wednesday of every month and every second Saturday of the month. If children attend five storytimes they are given the status of Junior Member, which entitles them to a coupon for one free family visit and invitations to parties.
Strollers are not permitted in the Kreeger Museum. Backpacks and large bags are also not permitted in the museum so plan accordingly if you think your diaper bag may not be allowed inside. There is limited free parking available. We have attended storytime on multiple occasions and have never had a problem parking. However, if you happen to go on a particularly busy day street parking is available in the surrounding neighborhood and the museum recommends looking on W Street.
Go out and explore this unique museum!