Author's son at age three in the Louise Bourgeois galleries at Dia:Beacon
It’s not impossible for a four-year-old to have a favorite contemporary art piece. In Beacon, a re-purposed factory on the banks of the Hudson River houses some of the Dia Art Foundation’s collection from the 1960s to the present. And there are a lot of exciting and accessible artworks there for a child to choose. Maybe it’s John Chamberlain’s crushed cars or Louise Lawler’s birdcalls in the West Garden. Walking around the galleries, families can talk about why Sol Lewitt is allowed to draw on the walls, or search for the mice and cats which pass through Bruce Nauman’s video installation. My four-year-old is partial to Louise Bourgeois’s giant spider and approaches it with great care. But that’s the nice thing about Dia:Beacon. While Dia staff is on hand to ensure that the works are not disturbed by visitors, they are encouraging of families and don’t overly direct the viewing. You’ll often spy a stroller breezing through the enormous galleries, and find the museum truly welcoming.
And on Saturday, May 14th, Dia:Beacon is even more hospitable when admission is free for locals. Sign up for the all ages family tour, Seeing in Color
, which departs the main entrance at 11:30a. It’s a one-hour, playful, family-friendly program, which explores color, environment, and sound, led by educator Fritz Horstman from the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation.
Check out the new Dan Flavin shaped-light installation in the basement from noon to 2p, where Dia Teens participants will be facilitating a public program: creating an animated video that traces the artificial and natural light in the galleries. The Dia Teens program launched last summer with a group of 15 local high school students who work with Dia artist educator Hanny Ahern, and it continues throughout the school year with monthly meetings. They’re exploring contemporary art issues through collaboration, dialogue, and experimentation.
There’s really delicious food and an appetizing kids’ menu at Homespun, the museum’s café, and great kids’ books and activities at The Bookshop. Don’t miss the landscaped maze to the right of the museum’s entrance. At its end, there’s a great hill for rolling down or catching glimpses of the train and the river.
Community Free Day at Dia:Beacon, 3 Beekman Street in Beacon: Saturday, May 14, 2016, 11–6 pm; family tour at 11:30a, no pre-registration required; free for residents of Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster, and Westchester counties - bring a driver’s license or other government-issued ID for free entry. Strollers ok, but backpack baby carriers not permitted. For more information, go to their website.
Make it a habit! Dia:Beacon hosts
Community Free Days quarterly (usually in January, May, July, and October). And entry is free to Beacon residents every Saturday and Sunday. Come back on Thursday, June 2, 4–6pm for an art opening, which features work made by the 2016 Arts Education Program participating students from area elementary and middle schools, who have been working with Dia artist educators in their classroom and at the museum throughout the spring.