It’s one thing to take a museum and say you’re going to close it, construct a new one and make it better than you can imagine. It’s another to actually do it, and that’s exactly the promise that was made and kept with flying colors! YAA is a nationally recognized museum that has been introducing children to an interactive art experience for over twenty years. With the newly designed space, housing the museum and a county library in the same space, this is the ultimate kid-friendly place to spend a day.
YAA is broken into five distinct themes: Wonderscapes, Artscapes, Culturescapes, Greenscapes, and the Young at Art Institute. Each separate area provides visitors with unique experiences that allow kids of all ages – and their parents, to try their hand at a wide variety of art-based encounters.
Wonderscapes – Where imagination begins. This theme is built around the story of Alice in Wonderland and includes a puppet theater, reading forest, giant tea cup, water area and tables with plenty of supplies to draw. Children can visit the March Hare’s house and farm stand, or head to Alice’s Pool – a fantastic water area that even comes with rain slickers and hand dryers for those who don’t want their kids soaked! This area is for children 5 and under, however, because we visited with my almost two year old nephew, my girls got to play in there too – and loved it!
Artscapes – Where art is the answer. This theme is extremely hands-on – and we loved it! We looked through a huge gallery of slides with over 10,000 pieces of art, dug for dinosaur bones, tried our hand a portrait painting, and put together puzzles of masterpieces. They have a ramp to a subway car that was a hit with the little kids – not sure if it was the subway car itself, or the ramp that they loved more! There was also a computer art section, an area that screamed of Magritte and wooden ramps that kids could set up for trains and boa
Greenscapes – Where informed choices shape the Earth. My ten year old could seriously have gotten lost in this area. She found Pablo’s Magical Workshop and Theater – a room filled with recycled materials where visitors can make their own puppets, then put on a show! STOMP provides an area for kids to use recycled materials to make as much noise as they can – we loved the hanging milk jugs and the ramp to the slide. There were also low tables and bins filled with a variety of shapes and styles of blocks, easy for little hands to grab and stack.
Culturescapes – Where artful traditions are celebrated. This was always one of my favorite areas in the previous location for the YAA museum, and they truly brought this to a different level in the new museum. Visitors can learn about currency and create a passport to stamp as they explore the different cultures represented in this theme. As you walk into this area, you are greeted by a giant chain wave, in the style of the Japanese woodblock artist, Hokusai. Housed behind the wave it a giant play structure for children to explore, and the way that the wave masks the structure is beautiful! I loved the numerous interactive art experiences – drawing Hindu gods, tracing Mexican designs, beating drums in an African hut, using a press to create paper designs and playing a huge mancala game were fantastic. They also had an amazing wall with pulleys that allowed you to completely change a painted scene on a wall.
The Young at Art Institute is an area that I have yet to explore. I’ll be heading back in August to visit this space that houses a ceramics studio, darkroom, digital art and film studio, teen center and recording studio, drawing/painting/print making studio and early childhood studio. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what these spaces offer! YAA has a variety of party packages that look absolutely amazing – where you select a theme and the party is based on the space you select. The parties vary in price (great discount if you join the museum!), and vary based on the ages of the kids. They even have adult parties in the studios complete with take-home masterpieces!
The staff was visable, in black t-shirts and the number of high school volunteers in bright orange t-shirts was fantastic! The volunteers were friendly, polite and genuinely seemed to enjoy spending time with all of the children visiting the museum. When I asked Alexia M., one of the student volunteers what she thought the best part of her job was, she said there’s always something to do, and being able to interact with the kids is awesome. As someone who frequently visits museums, the volunteers can truly make it a special experience. Alexia jumped right in when Ellie wanted to paint her portrait, and I really appreciated that she took the time to sit and chat with my daughter!
YAA offers several options for Summer Camps, and for the 5 and under kids, there are fantastic Family Workshops in the Wonderscapes area to entertain you with art, music and story time! The school year will be here before we know it, and this is a fantastic option for fieldtrips this year! YAA also have a small gift shop and Toss Up Salads Café with plenty of covered outdoor seating as well.
As a teacher, I can honestly say that kids in schools today aren’t exposed to the arts enough. The Young At Art Museum is a place where we, as parents, can take the time to visit with our kids, and play, as well. Sit on the floor and play with the planes, have your portrait painted on plexi-glass by your child, beat the drums and have a puppet show!
S FL IT Mom – Erin
YAA – 751 SW 21st Street, Davie FL 33325
Admission: Adults – $13; Children (1 & up) as well as seniors – $12.
Hours: M-Thu 10am-5pm; F-Sat 10am-6pm; Sun 11am-6pm