Family fun at MFAH’s de la Renta exhibit
This weekend, families can learn about the life and career of legendary fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, and get a sense of how he created some of his masterful work.
The inspiration for the kid-friendly events is the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s exhibit “The Glamour and Romance of Oscar de la Renta,” where 70 of the designer’s creations are on view - including Amal Clooney’s wedding gown, dresses worn by notables like Beyoncé and Laura Bush, and several garments from the personal collections of Houston socialites.
But during “Little Artists: Discovering Fabric” kids can get a hands-on approach to the fashion game. The sessions, taking place from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday, will allow museum guests ages 3 to 5 to manipulate fabrics used in the designer’s collections, such as fur, silk and lace.
“With our little artists, we always try to have a tactile experience so they can learn through all the senses,” says Denise Gonzalez, intergenerational learning specialist at the MFAH, adding that art projects geared toward young children put more importance on experiencing new materials than the end product.
There will be more of these family activities in December, taking place in the galleries throughout the museum, not in the section of the Audrey Jones Beck Building where the de la Renta exhibit is staged.
At some events, children and teens are invited to sketch the human figure. They’ll learn that the average adult human is the height of seven human heads. Adding clothes to that figure is “another level” of difficulty, Gonzalez says, and the experience will help kids appreciate the time that goes into clothing design.
The programming also gives children opportunities to think about why people wear particular clothing. Since the de la Renta exhibition is divided into geographical regions that informed the designer’s 60-year career - including Spain, Russia, China and Japan - visitors will also learn that clothing choices are influenced by where we live.
On Tuesday, visitors to the exhibit can discover de la Renta was an avid gardener. At 11:30 a.m. that day the museum’s family storybook circle will center around the book “My Garden” by Kevin Henkes. The activity invites children to imagine the design of their fantasy garden, then learn how intricate floral patterns are used in garments on display.
Later in the month, at 1 and 2:30 p.m. Dec. 17, the Sunday Family Studio is called “Cut, Drape, and Sew: Exploring de la Renta’s Ensembles.” Guests will create pieces inspired by the fashions on view.
And on afternoons during Dec. 26-31, families can explore the exhibit together before entering a pop-up art studio where children will create wearable, artlike brooches.
“We always try to have fun and spontaneous experiences in the gallery,” says Gonzalez, adding that family activities at the museum are about making art “accessible” and creating an atmosphere where families can begin a dialogue about art.
She hopes families will “walk away having learned together.”