We visited the Minneapolis Institute of Arts this afternoon. The museum was full of fun activities for kids, but the thing that caught the five-year-old’s eye was an exhibition of Ed Rusha’s Stains (1969), a collection of 75 sheets of white paper, each stained with a different substance, from apple juice to vaseline to bleach.
I like Ed Ruscha’s work, but didn’t expect rows of mostly-white pieces of paper to be a real crowd-pleaser. I underestimated the depth of a five-year-old’s fascination with the messy and the accidental.
At home we’re always tidying things up. Accidents happen — glasses of juice tip over, popsicles drip down a shirt, milk splashes out of the cereal bowl – and we grab a napkin or a sponge or a roll of paper towels. But here was a whole gallery of spills that didn’t get cleaned up: egg yolks, urine, sulfuric acid that actually burned the paper. He was fascinated and asked his dad to read what made each one of the stains. At bedtime, O talked about stains/Stains again. What about chocolate, daddy? What about melted chocolate?
I’m curious. Museums often create small displays or set up special activities just for kids. Some exhibitions are obviously kid magnets. But what exhibits or artworks have your kids loved that you never would have expected?
By the way, don’t squeeze the juice box. After twenty-plus years, the apple juice stain turned a nasty dark brown.