I know how hard it is to get young kids out of the house to go somewhere - even quick outings require you to pack enough snacks, diapers, and toys to make you think you’ll be gone for a week. And who wants to wrestle kids in and out of carseats just to find out that your destination isn’t kid-friendly? That’s why I’ve decided to visit Triangle area sites to see if they’re worth your trip. I won’t use a rating system but I’ll try to describe what you’ll see well enough for you to decide if your kids would find it interesting. I’ll also give you the heads up on bathrooms, stroller accessibility and any other SNAFUs I encounter.


North Carolina Museum of Art - Raleigh

Museum lobby with the tree projection on the far wall

Special Exhibit: 30 Americans  (through Sept. 4)


      I've taken the kids to the NC Museum of Art a number of times before I started blogging about my adventures. The Museum is really kid-friendly, the new exhibit space is beautiful, and the collection has a lot of items that even young children will find interesting. One of my preschooler's favorite things at the Museum is the tree that is projected on the lobby wall. The projection changes to show the tree in different seasons. It's immediately to the far right as you enter the Museum's new building.

      The Egyptian room with the sarcophagi is also a big hit with the kids. On the day we went recently, I noticed a new photograph in the African section of a man with a hyena on a leash. It's amazing to see how big the hyena is in contrast to the man!

      When you go to the new building you should go to the info desk and ask for one of their special kits for kids - it's a game your kids can play identifying details in the Museum's collection.

The old building

         On this day we were going to the special exhibit: 30 Americans. It's an exhibit of the work of 30 contemporary, African American artists. If you're uncomfortable with art that shines a light on racial stereotypes and prejudice then this is probably not the show for you. The exhibit is on the lower floor of the old Museum building which used to be the only building. It costs $10 for 1 adult and was free for my 20 month-old and 4 year-old. It sounds like a steep price to pay but after seeing the work I thought it was worth it. You can't bring a stroller into this special gallery space, which meant I had to hold my toddler most of the time. I was able to look at most of the work without him getting into trouble. He was mostly interested in climbing on the benches that were in the middle of each room.

      The work in this exhibit is impressive. There were enough textures and colors that both my kids were engaged even though they couldn't grasp the specific meanings behind the works. The ticket taker at the front of the exhibit was really sweet to my children and my preschooler just started sharing all of our family business with her. This ticket taker was quick to alert me that there were a couple of works in the exhibit that have explicit material, but that you are alerted to this fact well before you encounter the explicit work itself. I don't want to ruin the surprise for some, but the explicit material consists of a video installation that shows transvestites in lingerie and a pair of paintings that have explicit words written on them - not a problem of course if your kids can't read yet. My preschooler was quite taken with a set of huge and colorful woodcut prints that extend almost the entire length of a gallery wall.

     One thing I did on this trip that I have never done before, and I highly encourage, is take the kids on the walk around the Museum Park. There are several installed works along about a half-mile loop surrounding the Museum. The walk also connects to a greenway that goes to Hillsborough Street. There are several pieces along this walk that young kids will find interesting. One piece that my kids had the most fun at is called The Whisper Bench. It consists of two whimsical benches one on either side of the trail. Each bench has a megaphone like part on it that, because the benches are connected together underground, you can hear the person talking on the other bench.There is also a shelter that houses a huge pinhole camera on one of the trails. We didn't get to see this piece because the trail to it was closed.

The Whisper Bench

        Even if you don't see 30 Americans, the NC Museum of Art is one of my top picks of places in the Triangle to take the kids.

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