Thursday April 25, 2013

BRATTLEBORO -- From camouflage-inspired art exhibits and hands-on activities to Kung Fu sessions and Chinese cooking lessons, the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center (BMAC) welcomes kids with open arms this spring. "Art museums can be scary, off-putting places for kids," BMAC Director Danny Lichtenfeld said. "But that’s not what we’re about. This is a place to have fun, get inspired, and gain a new perspective on the world around you." Now through June, BMAC is offering plenty of opportunities for kids to do just that.

"If you like playing hide-and-seek, you’ll love The Invisible Man," says Lichtenfeld of the museum’s exhibit of photographs by the acclaimed Chinese artist Liu Bolin. In each photo, Liu is covered in paint, head to toe, in such a way that makes him practically vanish into the background behind him.

Kids will love searching for Bolin in front of a bulldozer, a magazine rack, a display of Panda Bears, the Great Wall of China, a pile of coal, and other captivating settings. Once inspired, they can head to the museum’s interactive Ticket Gallery and try their hand at creating a camouflaged creature. Templates and colored pencils are available for kids to produce snakes, moths, seahorses, and other animals, which they may then "hide" among naturalistic background scenes painted on the gallery walls.

In addition to its ongoing exhibits, BMAC offers a variety of special events geared toward kids and families this spring. Kicking things off -- no pun intended -- is a Saturday, April 20 presentation on Kung Fu suitable for ages 8 and up, including a demonstration and audience participation. On Saturday, April 27, at 3 p.m., Xi Cai of the Asian Cultural Center of Vermont offers Chinese cooking lessons for kids 5 and up. On Saturday, May 4, at 3 p.m., BMAC marks the traditional Mexican holiday, Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead), with a mask-making activity for families, led by art teacher Linda Whelihan.

Brattleboro-area students who have participated in the Asian American Cultural Exchange will reflect on their experiences on Thursday, May 9, at 7:30 p.m., and Xi Cai returns on Sunday, May 19 at 3 p.m. for a hands-on activity involving traditional Chinese calligraphy.

On Sunday, June 9, at 2 p.m., BMAC members young and old are invited on a tour of Townshend, Vermont’s Big Picture Farm, award-winning producers of goat-milk caramels.

To those who wonder why a contemporary art museum is dealing in Kung Fu, cooking, mask-making, and caramels, Lichtenfeld says creativity and craftsmanship are the common denominators. "At this stage, the particular medium doesn’t matter so much. It’s about putting your mind and body to work to create something that didn’t exist beforehand. Once you catch that bug, you’re in for a lifetime of fun and fascination."

Founded in 1972, the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center presents rotating exhibits of contemporary art, complemented by lectures, artist talks, film screenings, and other public programs. The museum’s exhibits and gift shop are open Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday: 11-5; Friday: 11-7; Saturday: 10-5. Regular admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, and $4 for students. Members and children under 6 are admitted free of charge. Located in historic Union Station in downtown Brattleboro, at the intersection of Main Street and Routes 119 and 142, the museum is wheelchair accessible. For more information call 802-257-0124 or visit www.brattleboromuseum.org