Cats, Dogs & Storytime at the Blanton Museum of Art

In recent weeks, it seems that there’s a 50% chance that it will start raining on us the minute we get out of the house for an outing. Don’t get me wrong — this is lovely and much-needed. But it’s throwing off our plans a little bit here and there. So what to do if you wake up and have to forego your splash pad plans because it’s raining cats and dogs? Well, how about going to check out some cats and dogs? The Blanton Museum of Art’s newest exhibit, In the Company of Cats and Dogs, is a great kid-friendly option for an interesting indoor adventure.

The Blanton (on the University of Texas campus) is showcasing this latest exhibit featuring our furry friends through September 21, 2014. The exhibit provides a look at our relationship with felines and canines through the ages and features over 150 works by masters such as Albrecht Dürer, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, William Blake, Francisco Goya, Paul Gauguin, Pablo Picasso, Edward Hopper, and others. Visitors can view sculpture, ceramics, prints, paintings, photgraphs, and yes, even modern-day cat videos (which my kids loved, naturally). 

The Blanton Museum of Art not only offers current exhibits that would appeal to visitors of all ages, but they also offer some really great summer family programs:

  • WorkLab on Wednesdays and Fridays from 10am – 12:30pm
    Dell Classroom, Smith Building
    Visitors of all ages are invited to drop in to this open studio to experiment with enticing materials and explore your their own creativity process.
  • Storytime Tours, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays at 10:30am
    Rapoport Atrium, Michener Building
    These 30-minute thematic tours encourage young art lovers to look carefully and make connections between art, story, and life. Storytime Tours are recommended for kids age 3-7 and their adult companions.

  • Deeper Dives, Wednesdays and Fridays at 1 – 2:30pm
    Rapoport Atrium, Michener Building
    These 90-minute experiences combine close looking, conversation, and the making of related art projects and are recommended for families with kids age 8-13.

My boys and I decided to go to the Blanton last Thursday when admission is always FREE and storytimes are offered as an added bonus. We arrived right at 10am when the museum opened and went straight to the front Visitor’s Service Desk to get our parking ticket validated (all day parking in the nearest lot is only $4 if you pay at the museum desk) and we requested our FREE tickets for the 10:30 storytime. This gave us a half hour to check my bag into the complimentary locker and peek around the first floor of the museum. (My bag was over-sized and the museum doesn’t allow visitors to enter with large bags. Good to know for a return trip.)

At 10:30am, we met other families in the pretty blue atrium looking for our guide to lead us on our storytime tour. To find your guide, you’ll simply match the color on your storytime ticket to the color of his or her sign so you can find your group. Our guide took us in to the new exhibit to talk about the historical relationship between humans, cats and dogs. We took time in front of three different works of art while she read from books at each stop along the way. The guide encouraged participation and discussion, and the kids were engaged (although my older two boys were much more interested than my youngest). I even learned a thing or two on the tour. After about a half hour, we thanked our storytime guide and went on our way to walk the museum on our own.

My kids remembered a few favorite works from our visit to the Blanton last summer, so we headed upstairs to find them. When we arrived on the second floor, we were pleased to find free craft stations for kids. This craft area was really busy, so we took our time exploring our favorite sculptures and paintings. The kids are always in awe of Cildo Meireles’ work called Mission/Missions. (Wow, pennies! It’s really so hard to keep the kids from swimming around like Scrooge McDuck in the 600,000 pennies of this piece.) The boys also love the piece by Luis Jimenez called Progress II, which features a bull with glowing red eyes. Finally, we made our way back to another favorite, the large wooden airplane covered with butterflies made of aluminum cans called Passage by Paul Villinski. We then circled right back to the family craft stations and stayed for a little while with hands-on activities.

It was about noon when we left, and we were planning on a picnic nearby, but we ended up eating lunch in the little covered area outside of the museum because yes, it was once again raining cats and dogs.

Location:
Blanton Museum of Art
The University of Texas at Austin
200 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. (map)
Austin, Texas 78701

Parking:
Parking is available in the Brazos Garage for $4 if you present your ticket and pay at the Blanton’s Visitor Services Desk. Please be sure to bring your ticket with you to the museum to receive this special validation rate. For more information visit the website’s parking page. If you choose street parking, do note that UT parking meters do not accept credit card payment like downtown meters, and you will need coins for these meters.


Admission: 
– FREE on Thursdays
– Children ages 12 and under, FREE
– Active-duty military, FREE
– Current UT faculty/students/staff, FREE
– Big Brothers/Big Sisters Program participants, FREE
– Adults, $9
– Seniors (65+), $7
– Youth (ages 13-21) and non-UT college students, $5

Hours:
– Closed Mondays
– Tuesday – Friday, 10am-5pm (Third Thursdays open until 9pm)

– Saturday, 11am-5pm
– Sunday, 1-5pm

— Note that the museum will NOT be open this Friday, July 4th. —

Freelance web producer, Heidi Okla is mom to three boys (ages 4, 6, and 8), and can’t pass up any opportunity for fun family adventures. Heidi covers theatre, health and beauty topics on Austin’s LiveMom.com. And she is excited to be currently working on AustinSummerFun.com where you can find lots of ideas for keeping the kids busy this summer.

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