FLASHBACK POST: I originally wrote this piece back in 2007 when I took my then one year-old daughter to The Andy Warhol Museum. I had taken her a couple times when she was a baby, but WOW, as a toddler, it was an especially great visit. My daughter is now 10 and we’ve visited the museum a few more times over the years but I always remember that toddler visit with her because I was inspired to write this piece, “Exploring the Warhol with a Pint-Sized Pittsburgher”. It never actually found a published home so…FINALLY it’s seeing the light of day! Obviously, the references to specific exhibitions are not valid anymore and, while I’ve added updated text since my most recent visit in 2017 (without kids this time), I kept the old work as an example that The Andy Warhol Museum, no matter which exhibition may be up at any given time, will likely have something of value for Pittsburgh’s youngest art connoisseurs.

 

My one-year old enjoying The Andy Warhol Museum back in 2007.

My one-year old enjoying The Andy Warhol Museum back in 2007.

Exploring the Warhol with a Pint-Sized Pittsburgher

Take your toddler to the Andy Warhol Museum.  Yes, you read that last sentence correctly.  I took my one-year old daughter and she had a blast! Mommy did, too.  The opportunity for educational fun is fit for a toddler king or queen.  Keep in mind, too, that the museum website (www.warhol.org/education) has a spectacular education section to give you some insight into the collection.  Granted, most of this information is beyond your toddler at this point, but it’s good to know that the resource exists for the future.  As for now, here are some step-by-step guidelines for making the most of your visit with toddler in tow:

1) {from 2007} Don’t go on a weekend if at all possible.  This suggestion was echoed to me by the gift shop attendant who assured me that our weekday excursion was perfect timing.  This museum works well for toddlers because of its large, open spaces.  Going on the weekday means fewer crowds.

1) Updated 2017: I still agree with this, although the museum was not uncrowded mid-week when we went recently just not as crowded.

2) {from 2007} Go before March 30th to see the amazing Ron Mueck at the Andy Warhol Museum exhibition. The unbelievably realistic sculptures on display actually provide a wonderful educational opportunity.  Don’t miss the Mask III sculpture in the entrance gallery on the 1st floor.  Basically, it’s a HUGE face with a lifelike nose, eyes, ears, mouth – you get the picture.  All those basic parts of the face that toddlers are learning.  This piece of art helps to reinforce that knowledge on a grand scale.  And don’t pass up Mask II, an even more impressive BIG face, on the 7th floor.  The other Mueck sculptures are great for teaching scale – “See the SMALL man in the BIG boat?” (Man in a Boat, 5th floor), for example, or “Look at the BIG woman under the BIG blanket!” (In Bed, 7th floor).  Be creative – this exhibit can inspire your toddler in all sorts of ways but, remember, no touching.

2) Updated 2017: There were still plenty of opportunities to point out parts of the face especially in the silkscreen gallery of famous people. You can also find other body parts in art displayed as part of the current exhibition Andy Warhol: My Perfect Body (through January 22, 2017). If you’re concerned that you may encounter some body parts that you’re not quite ready to discuss as art yet, just know that toddlers are generally easily redirected. They will pay attention mostly to what you choose to point out to them.

Gallery of Warhol's silkscreens of famous people with chairs to lounge on when you and your toddler need a break.

Gallery of Warhol’s silkscreens of famous people with chairs to lounge on when you and your toddler need a break.

3) {from 2007} Bark and meow your way through the Canis Major: Andy Warhol’s Dogs and Cats (and other party animals) exhibit.  Your toddler will take great pleasure in seeing the many images of Warhol’s dogs and cats, on the 5th floor mainly, as well as the taxidermies of “Cecil” the Great Dane and the Lion.  The floor-to-ceiling fish and cow wallpaper on the 5th floor is impressive, too.  Practice the animal names and the sounds each animal makes.  Take note of the vibrant colors, too.  “Have you ever seen a GREEN cat with PINK eyes?”

3) Updated 2017: “Cecil” the Great Dane and the Lion are still in the museum as well as the wallpaper, too, but just not organized into one exhibit. Kids can find cats, dogs, birds, snakes, cows, fish, elephants and maybe even more that I missed.

Visitors are greeted by cow wallpaper as they enter The Andy Warhol Museum, 2017.

Visitors are greeted by cow wallpaper as they enter The Andy Warhol Museum, 2017.

A selection of art featuring cats at The Andy Warhol Museum, 2017.

A selection of art featuring cats at The Andy Warhol Museum, 2017.

4) {from 2007} Learn your colors and shapes and basic words with a little help from Andy.  With over 500 works of art from the Warhol collection on show at any one time, your options for learning about colors, shapes and first words is overwhelming actually.  So just make sure you don’t miss these favorites on display now: Marilyn (6th floor), Flowers, Female Head Collage, Birds (all 5th floor), and Diamond Dust Shoes (4th floor).

4) Updated 2017: Still true although the location and exact works may vary now. My favorite ‘first words’ options this visit were BOAT (Do It Yourself (Sailboats), 1962), SOUP (all work from the Campbell’s Soup series),CHAIR (this work is located in the studio area), & GIRL and BIRD (Seated Girl Looking at Bird Cage, 1940s).

Can you say BOAT? First words with Andy Warhol. Do It Yourself (Sailboats), 1962 at The Andy Warhol Museum, 2017.

Can you say BOAT? First words with Andy Warhol. Do It Yourself (Sailboats), 1962 at The Andy Warhol Museum, 2017.

Can you say SOUP? First words with Andy Warhol. Works from Warhol's Campbell's Soup series, 2017.

Can you say SOUP? First words with Andy Warhol. Works from Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup series, 2017.

Can you say CHAIR? First words with Andy Warhol. This piece is located in the Factory studio area.

Can you say CHAIR? First words with Andy Warhol. This piece is located in the Factory studio area.

Can you say GIRL and BIRD? First words with Andy Warhol. Seated Girl Looking at Bird Cage, ca. 1940s.

Can you say GIRL and BIRD? First words with Andy Warhol. Seated Girl Looking at Bird Cage, ca. 1940s.

5) {from 2007} Relax and have a seat in the Silver Clouds installation.  I would suggest enjoying this interactive installation on the 4th floor after you start to feel like your toddler might be waning.  Sensory overload?  Just need a minute to sit down?  Let your toddler roam around in the Silver Clouds room.  The bright, shiny, rectangular-shaped balloons are durable enough to be batted around gently and they double as mini fun-house mirrors.  The movement of the balloons is peaceful and mesmerizing.

5) Updated 2017: Location has changed for this exhibit but it is still AWESOME for young kids to experience. Don’t miss it. Fun for adults, too.

How the time flies! My one year-old enjoying the Silver Clouds circa 2007.

How the time flies! My one year-old enjoying the Silver Clouds circa 2007.

 

6) {from 2007} Don’t forget the café, the photo booth, and the store.  After all this educational fun, take advantage of the café.  And after you do that, cross your fingers that the old black and white photo booth in the basement at the foot of the stairs is working on the day you’re there.  If it is, you’ll get to go home with a souvenir worthy of the money it will cost you.  As for the store, it’s just super cool.  I got a print of the GREEN cat with the PINK eyes for my daughter and a heart-shaped lollipop for my husband with words on it that make Mommy glad that her one-year old can’t read yet.

6) Updated 2017: The café and gift store have changed but they’re still cool. The old photo booth is still there in the basement plus they’ve added a new digital one in the lobby area to the left of the front desk. The hands-on studio area called the Factory is a great place to take kids during your visit. Also, several times throughout the year the museum offers a program specifically for kids ages 1 to 4 called Half-Pint Prints.

 

Thanks for reading!

Twinsies! Main lobby of The Andy Warhol Museum, 2017.

Twinsies! Main lobby of The Andy Warhol Museum, 2017.

 

 

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