The Montclair Art Museum, or MAM as we locals call it, is a hidden treasure just 12 miles west of NYC, featuring a great collection of American and Native American art, Contemporary art exhibitions, an art school for all ages, and a full offering of special family and public programs. MAM might be small, but it’s a nationally recognized leader of the arts, and it’s worth a special trip to check out it’s permanent and special exhibits (and if you’re local, it’s worth a second, third, or more, look).
Whether your family has toddlers, teens, or any age in-between, there’s an art experience waiting for you at MAM; here are some of the highlights:
- The Park Bench program held on the second Wednesday of the month (and some Saturdays) offers art projects, tours, and storytelling for the youngest art-lovers. I loved taking my girls to this program when they were younger. Bonus: They serve bagels & coffee!
- Family Art Adventure, held on the third Saturday of the month, is an hour-long, drop-in gallery program for children 5 and up and their parents. You’ll explore and discuss artworks and do fun activities in MAM’s galleries and sculpture garden.
- Home School Days invites home school families for special two-hour programs on the third Thursday of the month, which include a gallery tour and studio art project.
- With Kids’ Creativity Center, parents can enjoy Free First Thursday Nights while their kids (ages 5+) are engaged in an age-appropriate art project in the Museum Studios. During this drop-off workshop, kids learn to use fine art materials while you enjoy an enriching and relaxing evening (and a cocktail) in MAM’s galleries. That’s a win-win.
- MAM also hosts monthly Family Days, which offers a fun-filled themed day of activities. November focuses on the new Eric Carle exhibit (read more about that below)
Throw in the MAM Art Truck and special events throughout the year (like the Pumpkin Carving Party tonight), and MAM is truly an art museum for all ages.
Montclair Art Museum
3 South Mountain Avenue, Montclair, NJ
Wednesdays through Sundays, Noon – 5 pm
Admission: Adults $12 / Children under 12 free/ Members free
On View Now
Families have another reason to visit MAM now. The recently opened exhibition Eric Carle: Animals and Friends, on view through January 3, 2016, includes more than 60 original works from the childhood favorite. Since his best-known work, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, was published in 1969, Carle has illustrated more than 70 books.
Children will love the hands-on Reading Nook area right next to the works of art. Grab a book and sit on the cozy rug decorated with Carle’s art or plush and colorful beanbag. It’s a bright and inviting space and a highlight of the exhibition.
Where to Eat
Right down the block from MAM are some great restaurants for a family meal:
- Toast serves up fantastic pancakes, great salads (the Shenanigan Salad is my pick), and hearty sandwiches.
- Uncle Momo is the place to go for delicious and authentic Lebanese food (Middle Eastern cuisine with a French influence) : We love the Mezze platters, falafel, and Pitzas (Lebanese pizzas on pillow-like pita bread). End your meal with pistachio ice cream and a Moroccan cappuccino.
- For the best Italian sandwiches, a visit to Belgiovine’s Italian Deli is a must.
(Photo credit: MAM and Georgette Gilmore)