The Frist Center for the Visual Arts is not your typical art museum.
Located in downtown Nashville — on Broadway — The Frist Center offers not only visual arts galleries but also a hands-on family-friendly interactive area.
On the day of our visit, I had my son Garrett and my nephew Austin (both 9) with me.
Art museums are not just for adults. The Frist Center for the Visual Arts has a special area, especially for kids – Martin ArtQuest. There are thirty hands-on stations that encourage kids to create prints and collages, sketch, paint and learn about all facets of art and art-making. Activities change as exhibits change in the galleries. Parents, older siblings, grandparents and other adults are welcome to create side-by-side with their little ones. Source
First, The Art Galleries
There are 4 galleries on display including:
- oil painting
- assemblages (artistic arrangements of miscellaneous items)
These galleries are changed every 6 to 8 weeks allowing for new experiences with every visit.
I enjoy art galleries and taking my time learning about the artist and their technique as well as each original creation. My two young companions, on the other hand, had a different approach. They wanted to travel through the galleries as fast as possible so we could head over to the interactive area.
We didn’t travel through the galleries at record speed, but I also didn’t get to spend as much time reading and admiring as I would have liked.
The boys enjoyed the photography exhibit. They liked the oil paintings, tolerated the sketches, and had no interest in the assemblages.
We spent about 45 minutes in the galleries and that was pushing it.
I insisted on visiting these galleries before we headed to the interactive area. I know they are young and right now they have very little appreciation for other peoples’ art, but exposure builds appreciation, in my opinion. They may not appreciate the art per se, but they can appreciate the technique and the time it takes to make the art. It also teaches them how to behave in these types of settings.
Next, The Interactive Area
Once our self-guided tour through the art galleries was over, we headed to the interactive area — otherwise known as Martin ArtQuest.
This area is not limited to children; everyone may participate. (I sure did.)
There are 30 hands-on stations that teach some aspect of art — such as color, texture, shape, space, etc.
Some of these stations are computerized, some have interactive parts, but most were creation stations.
At the creation stations, you create the art and take it home with you!
Like the art galleries, many stations will change every 6 to 8 weeks and some of them correlate with the art exhibits. For example, one of the galleries was about oil painting and one of the stations was about painting in the technique that the featured artist used.
There are step-by-step instructions at each station and many educated staff members on hand to assist.
We spent almost an 1-1/2 hours at the ArtQuest. When it was time to leave, we went around to the different stations, collected our creations from the drying racks, and put them in a baggie given to us by the ArtQuest staff.
An awesome feature of ArtQuest is their digital portfolio. Once you’re done creating, they will take digital photos of your art and make a profile that you can access online — with your own unique ID number. What a great idea!
We walked out of the ArtQuest with a pretty big bag of creations, and I will be framing some of them.
We will visit again and will spend time in both the galleries and the Martin ArtQuest.
Good To Know Before You Go
- There is no photography of any kind allowed inside the art galleries (which is to be expected), however you can take as many photos as you like outside, in the main hall, and at the Martin ArtQuest.
- There are a lot of staff members walking around the galleries to make sure that no photos are taken and nothing is being touched.
- I highly recommend visiting the Frist Center website before your visit to see what will be on display when you arrive.
- It’s a good idea to read the museum etiquette before visiting the art galleries.
- Kids 18 and under are always FREE. Adults are $10. College students (with ID), seniors, and active military (with ID) are $7.
- There are different membership packages to choose from. (Members enjoy lots of fun benefits.)
- No outside food or beverages are allowed, but The Frist has its own cafe with a very large menu.
- Parking at The Frist is not free. Park in the gated area and take your ticket into The Frist for validation. Otherwise, you will have to pay a higher rate. We paid $4 for 3 hours. (The max you can pay is $8.)