The MSU Broad Art Museum Welcomes Kids – and Even Plans for Them

If an art museum is one of the last places you’d think to take kids, one visit to the Broad Art Museum on MSU’s campus is sure to change your mind!

Art museums may conjure up visions of quiet, whisper-only rooms, serious docents, and lots of off-limits expensive and breakable objects – in other words, an accident just waiting to happen!

After lots of visits to the Broad with my family of five (including three young kids), I’m here to tell you the MSU Broad Art Museum is extremely family-friendly!

A visit to the Broad Art Museum is one of the first things I recommend to out-of-town visitors.

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11 Reasons You’ll Fall In Love With the MSU Broad Art Museum

When it comes to art on campus, I have to admit, I’m a little biased. My affection for art here at MSU goes way back. Back in the day, my boyfriend was an Art Major at MSU.

I remember waiting for him at Kresge, (the only art building on campus then) walking the halls and looking at art hung wherever it would fit between classroom doorways or at the end of halls.

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A few things have changed since then. That boyfriend has turned husband, and instead of carrying art portfolios, we’ve got arms full of kids.

We still love walking the campus for art, and SO appreciate the Broad Art Museum for displaying art so much better than it was back in our college days.

Most important to us now is having a space to invite our kids into, to instill a love for art, and to give them a chance to participate.

There are so many reasons we love the Broad Art Museum – here are eleven reasons why I recommend checking it out as soon as you get a chance!

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01 – First Saturdays at the Broad Art Museum

If it’s the first Saturday of the month, it’s guaranteed you’ll find me and the fam at the Broad Art Museum. Family First Saturdays are a day of hands-on art and experimentation that my kids never want to miss. I make sure to schedule everything on those first Saturdays around it!

First Saturdays are FREE every first Saturday of the month from 11 am – 3 pm and every month has a different theme. There are several tables in one of the wings set up with materials and projects based on the month’s theme. Kids are guided by posted examples, but also have the freedom to independently create whatever they want from the materials.

For instance, one month the theme was space, so stations included:

1) making headband art with wire and clay

2) button making using artwork of moon landings

3) interactive wall art

4) a book nook with children’s books on space

There’s plenty of room at the tables for parents to sit next to their kids and create alongside them too.

One of my favorite parts of this day is that all materials are prepped, organized, and cleaned up afterward, so I’m not the one doing it! This makes it so easy to be present and create something together as a family while everything else is taken care of.

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02 – FREE Admission 

The Broad Art Museum is something fun, interesting, and best of all, FREE! I love that there’s never any money needed for an outing here, which means an all-inclusive space for the entire community to gather

As a mom, this also means if it happens to be a day when the skipped nap isn’t working out so well and we have to head out early, there’s no frustration about having spent money!

We can head back home for that nap, and come back to visit again on another, better-rested day.

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03 – World-Famous Architecture

I am still in awe that we have a work from international star architect Zaha Hadid right here in East Lansing. Every time I walk or drive by this building I feel fortunate and proud to live somewhere with such a stunning piece of architecture.

Some people aren’t in favor of a building on campus that looks so different than the rest, but to me, it represents MSU’s dedication to progressive ideas and artistic experimentation.

The goal of the architect was for the building to have “an ever-changing appearance that arouses curiosity yet never quite reveals its content.” I think she succeeded!

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04 – The Broad Art Museum was Designed by a Woman

Not only is the Broad designed by an amazing award-winning architect, but by an amazing woman architect.

When I was first explaining the building and architecture of Zaha Hadid to my daughter, I saw the look of surprise mixed with inspiration when she realized it was a SHE behind the beauty of the building we were standing in.

It’s extremely special that we get to bring our daughters and son here to show them the design and statement of a brilliant woman.

There is a photo of the architect (sadly, she passed away recently, at the age of 65) hanging up in the kids area, which gives them something tangible for them to grasp if you’d like to talk to your kids about the architect.

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05 – Something Different is Refreshing

From the second you lay eyes on the museum, you’ll see it’s not your typical museum in any way, shape, or form. The angular, modern architecture is a stark contrast to the vine-covered collegiate brick buildings that surround it.

Once you step inside, you’ll see the art inside is just as unusual and unexpected as the view of the outside. With constantly rotating exhibits, you never know what to expect – but I can promise you it’s never stuffy, and it’s never boring!

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06 – The Modern Rotating Art 

The museum has mostly temporary exhibitions, instead of a permanent collection. This means that every time you come, you can expect to see something very different. The displays are always changing, and are very unusual.

Since modern art is so conceptual, you probably won’t know what you’re looking at unless you get an explanation from a guide. They provide docent tours if you want to pin down the concept behind the piece.

Sometimes it’s fun to roam the galleries and have a conversation about what they MIGHT mean though. It’s a great way to start a date night and transition your mind from the normal every day.

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07 – You Get to Walk inside Lex Luthor’s House, as Featured in the Batman vs. Superman Movie

Movie buffs will be excited to know that the Broad was used as the house of Superman’s archenemy, Lex Luthor, in the movie Batman vs. Superman.

You may remember the crowds on campus a few years ago trying to catch a glimpse of the actors, or maybe you were one of the 200 Lansing locals who made it on set as an extra!

It served as the perfect house for Lex Luthor’s character, as explained by actor Jesse Eisenberg here.

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08 – Collaborate in the Broad Art Lab 

There’s an extension of the art museum across the street called the Broad Art Lab, a community center made for experimentation. This space is all about “breaking outside the museum walls” to involve the community even more deeply in art.

At museums, exhibitions and planning happen internally, so most people in the community don’t get to participate. But in the Art Lab, the Broad provides a space where everyone can be a part of the process. Through open calls, you can be part of deciding what is displayed and what exactly happens in the space.

Take a peek inside the Art Lab here.

The Art Lab is open to the public Tuesday–Sunday, 12 pm – 4 pm and is across the street from the Broad, located at 565 E Grand River Ave, East Lansing, MI 48823.

09 – The Broad has Lots of Natural Light

The walls of glass create a space where even if it’s a cold and blustery winter day, you’ll have access to lots of natural light. This is why we mentioned it as one of our winter blues busters.

There’s a cafe and small art store next to the glass wall area, so you can grab a cup of coffee while you browse fun gifts for someone you love, or just to treat yourself.

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10 – Gorgeous Outdoor Seating

For those perfect spring and summer Michigan days, there is a perfect area for outdoor eating. It’s peaceful, inspiring, and located right on the border of EL’s shopping district and main campus. Having lunch here is a perfect central meeting location, where you can venture out afterward in any direction.

We like to grab lunch from one of the restaurants along the strip across the street. We bring it over to eat on the tables before heading into the museum or making our MSU campus rounds.

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11 – The Broad Art Museum has a Specific Kid-Friendly Area 

If you’re coming with little ones, it’s good to know that mature art can often be a part of the displays. If there is, there will be signs posted so you know where it’s safe to go.

If the content happens to not be acceptable on a given day, there is a small child’s area in the downstairs that’s always open for kids with a table for drawing, building blocks, and other crafts.

Since exhibits are always changing, feel free to call ahead of time to see how much of the museum will be kid-friendly on the day you are visiting!

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For locals, out-of-towners, families, or date nights, the Broad Art Museum is a place where everyone can visit and participate in art!

Have you Visited the MSU Broad Art Museum yet?

What are some of your favorite exhibits or events?

Please share in the comments below!

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