As I write this, the fire in the fireplace is crackling and the temperature outside is a single digit. My desire to go outside does not exist. I realize, as a born and raised New Yorker, I have experienced some cold weather, but there is a reason I moved south. And, mostly, Virginia does a good job of delivering the nice weather. But as we sit here facing a month or so of particularly cold weather, I am revisiting one of my favorite parts of Colonial Williamsburg… The Art Museums!
We love walking up and down the streets of our beloved colonial neighborhood. I don’t imagine that we will ever tire of it. But I can promise you that at some point in the year, it will be ridiculously cold outside and, at another point, it will be ridiculously hot outside. In my opinion, those are the two best times of year to take a jaunt off the beaten path to 326 West Francis Street.
It doesn’t matter if you’re an art connoisseur—there’s something there for everyone. I mean absolutely everyone. I can assure you of this because my main cause to visit is the fact that I have four children (ages 13, 7, 5, and 2) to entertain and on the hottest or coldest days, my first choice is to head to the Art Museums. I know it sounds crazy to think that a building with more china on display than Macy’s would be the perfect place for a rowdy bunch of kids, but I assure you it is amazing. Every time we end up there, we find something new and fun to do. I really like the folk art. It’s fun and, after spending so much time in the 18th century, it is nice to see artifacts and antiques from other times. Some of my friends and family prefer the portrait galleries. For example, my dad really likes the furniture displays. Again, something for everyone!
Back in December, my 2 year old and I tagged along on my 5 year old’s class field trip to the museum. They had so much fun looking at the fantastic doll house display and seeing what toys and things boys and girls would have been entertaining themselves with in past centuries. After the kids headed back to school, we kept wandering and found a cool display of ship paintings. The display lighting that presented a water-like illusion must have been good. He tried to swim in it.
Later in the month, we had some rather warm days on our holiday break from school. We wandered over to the museums to find my personal favorite attraction—the Christmas tree. They put up the most stunning tree every year and fill the branches with ornaments that represent different things displayed in the museum. After we saw the tree, we visited the harpsichord and piano display. It has an interactive aspect to it, so our 13 year old who is the musically inclined one of the bunch probably would have stayed all day if we hadn’t been so anxious to get to the to the Down on the Farm exhibit so we could color in the “create your own art” section. When I say it is family friendly, I mean it. The kids, my mom, sister, and I all colored and had a ton of fun.
This past weekend, my now 7 year old and a bunch of friends went over to the museum and had a magical creatures tour. To be completely honest, it was an eclectic group of kids, so I wasn’t sure how into looking at furniture and dishes they would be. Turns out, they were very interested! Phoenixes and dragons and griffins… I had no idea these cool creatures would be on display for us to track down. After some touring around, we ventured over to the Art Studio. Every time we end up there, we have an awesome experience. Over the years, we’ve made toys, ornaments, games, sketches… always something fun and different. This time we decorated wooden snakes (keeping with our mythical creature theme).
So with snow on the ground and no immediate prospects of warm weather on the horizon, I can assure you we will be back at the Art Museums again very soon. And I hope you will join us! I highly encourage you to check their hours and daily exhibit schedules. And be sure to keep an eye on the calendar for Art Studio programs. Those are my favorite!
GUEST BLOGGER: KATHERINE MORRIS AINSLIE
Katherine is the Externship Program Coordinator for the William & Mary Law School. She has four children – Alexandra (12), Senet (6), Thaine (5), and Flynn (2). Katherine and her significant other, Alex Morse, are avid board gamers and boast an impressive and ever-growing collection of games. Beyond having their weekly board game parties, Katherine loves hosting visitors and throwing big parties including their famous annual Kentucky Derby party. She also enjoys British costume dramas, obnoxiously bright colors and patterns, cooking, & consuming large quantities of Aromas coffee.