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Family Fun Day at the Clyfford Still Museum

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What are your memories of childhood cultural outings? One of my most vivid memories is of a field trip to the theater. My class rode a bus downtown to see The Gift of the Magi. On the bus, everyone was rowdy and excited; leaving the school was a big deal. After we had arrived at the theater and settled noisily into our seats, our teacher shushed us one last time. Then the lights dimmed. At first, I was mesmerized. I loved it, but soon my eyes began to droop and my head bobbed. I dozed off and missed most of the play. Bottom line, I was too young to sit through a long play. I still think about that field trip every time I search for cultural events in Denver, and it strengthens my resolve to pick activities that are fun and age appropriate for my entire family.

That’s why I’m excited about the Clyfford Still Museum’s 5th Anniversary Family Day on November 19; the event marries fun with culture, and it’s drop-in, so if someone gets hangry or tired we can call it a day a tad bit early.

If you haven’t been to the Clyfford Still Museum before, it’s well worth a visit. A friendly next-door-neighbor with the Denver Art Museum, it’s easy to find and it’s a local treasure. The museum has received significant global attention and rave reviews lately from prestigious publications like The Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times, and Denverites should feel proud. After all, Still’s work belongs to the City and County of Denver.

You might be wondering what that means for your family. It means that you don’t have to stray far from home for a world-class cultural experience because it’s practically in your backyard. If you need further convincing to visit, the museum’s atmosphere is one of the most serene and warm I have encountered, and the family tours are intimate and carefully crafted. The Clyfford Still Museum has become one of my family’s go-to places for an outing in the city.

Engaging my two fidgety elementary school kids for an hour is no small feat, and the tour guides on the family tour do it extremely well. They have backgrounds in education and are well-versed in classroom management techniques (the good kind). Families work in teams for many of the activities, developing communication and relationship building skills, both things I am happy to work on, especially as middle school looms and my son responds to questions about his day with one-word answers.    

In addition to family tours, the 5th Anniversary Family Day will have modern-art face painting, kid-friendly refreshments, art-making activities, and access to The Drawing Room (an interactive gallery that is part of the current exhibition Clyfford Still: The Works on Paper). The icing on the cake: Admission is free for everyone all day long (kids under 18 are always free).

When I asked the museum about their fifth anniversary, they expressed deep gratitude to the community. “Our hope for our fifth anniversary weekend is to heartily celebrate the individuals and organizations that support and partner with us,” said Clyfford Still Museum director Dean Sobel. “From the outset, it has been our mission to make this previously hidden collection accessible to a vibrant audience, and we could not have made the strides we’ve achieved without the vital support of Denver’s thriving cultural community.” In short, the Family Day celebration is the museum’s way of thanking Denver for five fabulous years.     

Kristin Kirsch Feldkamp is a mother of two rascally but adorable kids in Littleton. She’s also a freelance writer, blogger, and culture enthusiast. She blogs at www.plainspokenmama.com.   

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