Art Hopping Destinations in Detroit, Grand Rapids and Indianapolis

Families can immerse themselves in a variety of artwork and the cultures the pieces derive from at these art-hopping destinations in Michigan and beyond.

Are you looking for something to do with your art-loving kiddo? Skip an at-home arts and crafts session and treat them to an event at one of these cool art-hopping destinations in Detroit, Grand Rapids and Indianapolis.

Each one offers exhibits full of artwork and fun activities designed to get kids excited about learning. Read up on each spot’s offerings here and then head out for a day at one of these artsy hotspots.

Close to home: Detroit Institute of Arts

Haven’t been downtown lately? Here’s your excuse to head into the city – you can spend a chilly day inside to warm up your kids to all things art.

“Exposing young people in our region to a wide range of history and culture that can’t be found in books, movies or online is a critical part of what we do at the Detroit Institute of Arts,” says Laura Skimin, communications coordinator for the DIA. “Exploring the museum gives children new tools to express themselves, discovering their identity and individuality in ways that aren’t always available at home or in the classroom.”

While you can go any day of the week, you might want to schedule your visit around one of the museum’s special activities for families.

“Every Saturday and Sunday, the DIA transforms into the Detroit Institute of Awesome with free family fun for all ages,” Skimin explains. “Starting at 11 a.m., families can enjoy many activities, including drop-in art-making, Drawing in the Galleries, gallery games, special artist performances and demonstrations, a kid-friendly menu in Café DIA and more.”

But no matter when you visit, make a pit stop to see Arty the donkey, which was acquired by the museum back in the 1920s. Unlike other works of art that are off limits for little hands, the artist behind Arty intended for this bronze statue to be touched.

“Arty is our mascot,” Skimin says. “He shows what happens over time when you keep touching an object. Families love to see Arty because kids can go right up to him.”

A day trip: Grand Rapids Art Museum

“The Grand Rapids Art Museum is a place where families and children of all ages are invited to express and explore their creativity,” says GRAM communications manager Elizabeth Payne. “From hands-on art-making in GRAM Studio to finding inspiration in the artwork in the galleries, we encourage guests to engage their curiosity.”

Spot special exhibits and a permanent collection, which includes several Michigan artists.

Insider tips from Payne: “Don’t miss Drop-in Studio on Saturday afternoons, a weekly studio experience where children of all ages and skill levels can unleash their artistic side and create their own work of art. If you’re visiting on a Meijer Free Thursday Night, enjoy our free Story Time Program in collaboration with the Grand Rapids Public Library.”

Another hint? General admission is free Tuesdays during regular hours, plus Thursday evenings. There are also plenty of other museums in Grand Rapids for families to enjoy, so don’t forget to check them out while you’re on the mitten’s west side.

Even farther away: Newfields (Indianapolis)

A short drive north of downtown Indianapolis, Newfields is more experience than museum. Surrounded by gardens, this spot does include an art museum, but there’s also walking paths, outdoor sculptures and more to explore. Indoors, stop by the original LOVE sculpture that recently underwent extensive renovations.

Outside, trek the trails down to the Funky Bones artwork made up of 20 oversized bones that form a human skeleton – that you can sit on (yes, take selfies!).

Photo from Newfields/Indianapolis Museum of Art


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