Where: 1500 East Peabody Drive, Champaign; (at the corner of Peabody and Sixth Street on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
Hours: When school is in session: Monday–Saturday, 9–5 p.m.; Thursday, 9 a.m.–9 p.m.; Closed Sundays and University holidays. In the summer, closed at 5 p.m. on Thursdays.
Costs: Free; $3 donation per person suggested but not required.
Good for: All ages — but there are lots of things that look like they should be touched, but are not to be disturbed. Younger children must be carefully supervised.
Laura’s take: Krannert Art Museum is the home of the University of Illinois’ art collection. It is the second largest art museum in the state of Illinois, and has more than 130,000 annual visitors. It has more than 9,000 permanent artworks, as well as 12-15 visiting exhibitions each year. The museum is a great resource to UI faculty and students, as well as the greater community.
I grew up going to art museums from a fairly young age, so it doesn’t seem odd to me to take kids to one. And Krannert Art Museum makes art very accessible. You can go there for one of its Kids at Krannert events (about four times a year — we highly recommend, lots of fun crafts and kid-friendly activities that vary from event to event; watch our calendar) or just to check out the collections at your own pace.
KAM’s permanent collections contain a variety of works from all over the world and from every time period. It’s a great way to supplement some of what your older children may be learning about in school when it comes to a particular culture or time period. For the younger kids, it’s a fun way to talk about color, shapes, and make up your own stories about various artworks.
Some exhibits lend themselves more to a youthful audience than others. In my last visit, I was struck by how my kids reacted to the African exhibit — they were fascinated by the intricacy and imagination poured into the masks. It also has some nice touches of technology through its use of iPads, which of course interested them. There are currently several other artworks (in other temporary exhibits) that employ multimedia that engages kids.
Low tech or high tech, KAM is a great place to spend an hour on a rainy day or take a break from the cold or heat. It is a break from the hustle and bustle of every day life, a great place for a child who appreciates a little peace and quiet — as well as the child who could learn to get used to it! If you’re planning to take your children to a museum in a larger city, KAM is a great place to go to show them art in a quieter, less crowded environment.
The museum is a wonderful resource for educators, as well. The museum has partnered with some local schools on projects and field trips at the museum as well as within the schools themselves.
KAM is a gem in our community. Kudos to the curators, volunteers and staff!