I admit it, I am a HUGE fan of Impressionist art. HUGE. So when I got invited to a press preview of Seattle Art Museum's (SAM) new temporary exhibition, Intimate Impressionism, I actually squealed with happiness. This exhibition (on now through January 2016) is made up of 68 paintings from the National Gallery of Art, on tour while the museum in DC undergoes renovations.
I loved the way that SAM presented these paintings. Instead of grouping them close together, the paintings are spread out, with a few feet in between each one. They are simply placed on the wall at about my eye level (I come in at 5 feet tall), with a simple plaque describing the painting next to each piece of art. I loved the ability to get up close and really admire the brush strokes and colors of each painting. Most are fairly small, but there is so much detail to take in. I'm not normally one to sit and stare at art, but I found myself doing just that for several of the paintings.
The paintings are organized chronologically, so you can see the transitions in art styles from pre-Impressionism all the way to post-Impressionism. If you visit, please take advantage of the free audio tours that you can download to your smart device. Hearing about the artists and the influences on the paintings made a huge difference to my appreciation of the exhibition.
As far as visiting with kids goes, I am a huge fan of SAM for kids. You can read all about my thoughts over at Trekaroo. There's a wide variety of art at SAM, there are several play areas with art-themed activities, and the museum is free for kids 12 and under. Admission to the Intimate Impressionism exhibition is also free for kids 12 and under, but adults do need to purchase a ticket (ticket includes regular museum admission as well). If you buy online, you can save $5 for the tickets.
For this exhibition, I am unsure whether to recommend it for bringing small kids. Here are my pros and cons. Pros- it's free for kids, and the art is beautiful. Paintings subjects include puppies and kittens and bucolic scenes and things that kids could enjoy. Cons- the art is hung at a height that kids would not be able to see well, and parents would have to lift children to allow them to see it well. Also, visiting with kids typically doesn't allow for leisurely admiration of the paintings.
I would 100% recommend the exhibition for older school aged children and teens. I suggest getting some age-appropriate books about Impressionism and its artists before you visit, to really enhance the experience. It's a lovely exhibition and well worth the visit.