Adventure 8 - Take a Baby Art Class


The Adventure

Take an Art Babies class at Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum.

The Contender

A self-proclaimed artistic person who has never stepped foot inside of an art museum and, honestly, I don’t “get” much art.

The Experience

This is the third time I have been signed up to attend Art Babies, but only the first time I have attended because I am a big fat chicken.
This morning, though, I promised my daughter we would go and even though she’s only three-months-old, I don’t want to get into the spirit of breaking promises to her.

I got lost on the way to the museum.
Dagny needed her diaper changed twice during the 45-minute class.
She was the youngest baby by far and couldn’t really participate in any of the activities.
She got hungry which required me to publicly nurse her a half-hour into the class.
I got her hand-knit sweater (not by me) stuck in her car seat nearly every time I tried to get her out.
I was sure someone was going to come question me after walking into several galleries and immediately looking around to see where the cameras were like a weirdo (I don’t know why I do that).
And I ran her behemoth of a stroller into countless doorways and pedestals.

And we still had a blast.

Turns out you can have literally everything happen that you were worried about and still have a great time because your “worst case scenario” is always worse than how things will actually play out.

The Leigh Yawley Woodson Art Museum opened in 1976 with the mission to enhance the lives of others through art and resides in the historic hills of Wausau, Wisconsin.

In 1973, John E. Forester and Alice W. Forester donated their English tudor home and four-acre estate to the community in order for it to be transformed into the communities only art museum.
The home was renovated and multiple two-story galleries and an additional 9,000 square feet were added over the course of twenty-five years and, I have to say, it is pretty magical when you walk upon the property tucked inside of a Wausau neighborhood filled with historic homes.

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The Yawkey and Woodson families, who were prominent in Wausau business and philanthropic affairs, wished to enhance the lives of others through the experience of art, and generously shared their collections with the community at the Museum’s opening in 1976.

More than four decades later, Leigh Yawkey remains the only full-service art museum in Northern Wisconsin and is free to the public.

The museum features paintings, drawings, and sculpture throughout their interior galleries and outdoor sculpture garden and grounds, but, today, we came for one of the many enriching programs they offer for children: Art Babies, a special class created just for babies aged newborn to 18-months, held once a month.

Our morning began in one of the smaller gallery rooms where yoga mats were set down for the babies to crawl and walk on. Scattered on top were rubber toys that all of the babies shared with one another. The program coordinator, Lisa, read them a story about a buzzing bee and immediately made me envious of her ability to read children’s stories.
We then listened to the flight of the bumble bee and most of the kiddos continued walking around passing around their toys - Dagny continued to just sit in my lap and stare at everyone.
Lastly, we made our way down to the Art Park where we danced with ribbons and let the babies play.

The newly imagined, Art Park, provides an interactive family gallery that includes ever-changing activities, themes, hands-on art, reading areas, puzzles, and more for children of all ages. Filled with soft furniture, low table settings, and lots of sensory fun the other babies in Dagny’s Art Babies class loved walking around playing with everything they could get their hands on.
As for Dagny, she much enjoyed the brightly colored paper flowers on the walls and the soft couches where she could lay and share all of her most creative thoughts with the passersby.

Dagny was the youngest baby by at least a year, but Lisa let me know that most of the babies in attendance had started at her age and have grown up altogether which made my heart grow about three sizes too big. While I had previously been shaking my finger at myself for not bringing her to the two previous sessions I had been signed up for, I felt okay with waiting until she was a little bit older once I realized what the program was like.
Newborn Dagny would have surely slept through the whole thing.
Mom to newborn Dagny would have been way too shy to “whip it out” and nurse her in public … funny how nursing a baby in the middle of the food court at Mall of America changes a person.
But that’s a story for another day.

We’re signed up to attend Art Babies again in August and I’ll be excited to see how Dagny can interact differently with the class and with the other babies: attending these once a month will be a great way to “time stamp” her development.

One last quick shoutout to the staff and volunteers at the Museum who could not have been nicer in helping me maneuver Dagny’s stroller in and out of doorways. They really made me feel welcome from the second I walked in the door and that really makes a difference to a new mom.

I would absolutely recommend going to these classes for all new moms in the Central Wisconsin area or, at least, to take advantage of the Art Park!
This was absolutely my favorite “Mommy Group” activity that I’ve taken part in so far and, did I mention, it was FREE!