When I told my husband I was going to be taking our four kids — ages 8, 6, 5 and 1 — to Burning Man at the Cincinnati Art Museum, he was skeptical. No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man is a one of the most influential art events in contemporary American art and culture. It’s famous for being radical and provocative. And as its name suggests, Burning Man is also known for its pyrotechnics.
All of these things would give you pause to bring kids to No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man, which is showing at the Cincinnati Art Museum (CAM) through Sept. 2. Last week, the second phase of this exhibition opened at CAM, and I did indeed bring my 8, 6, 5 and 1 year old. What we discovered was that not only is Burning Man family friendly in many ways, but kids are actually encouraged to participate in this exciting event!
Burning Man is an accessible, family-friendly exhibit. Here’s everything you need to know about No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man at CAM:
There are hundreds of art works on display
The exhibition literally features hundreds of works placed throughout the museum. The exhibition starts just after the front lobby, with the iconic Shrumen Lumen. The art is varied, visually stunning and engaging. Many pieces take up entire rooms. Burning Man is like a big scavenger hunt through CAM; your kids can follow the signage and explore the entire museum in the process.
The art is captivating
Burning Man is famous for its large-scale sculptures, which do not disappoint. Favorite of ours included Evotrope, a giant bicycle your kids can pedal with whirling imagery on the wheel; Nova, a bursting constellation playing out on the ceiling that invites viewers to lay down and enjoy; Tin Pan Dragon, a room-sized, dragon-inspired vehicle; Shrumen Lumen, with its interactive, psychedelic mushroom blooming; and my personal favorite, a several-piece installation of Hybycozo’s geometric shapes (including one that invites viewers inside its mirrored, color-changing dome). Each of these pieces is experienced in a very immediate and unique way which exemplifies how deeply personal art is.
This exhibit is appropriate for kids
Out of the literally hundreds of art in this exhibit, only one or two small artworks contain anything that you might want to skip with younger kids. There was minor nudity in one of the exhibits, and my 8-year-old groaned during the kissing scenes in the silent film (part of the Capitol Theatre installation). But really, this exhibit is absolutely appropriate for kids, who will undoubtedly be drawn to the color, movement and beauty of these installations. Look for “Please Touch” signage located next to the appropriate artwork and let your kids touch away!
The REC is celebrating Burning Man with Express Yourself
The Rosenthal Education Center (REC) is one of Cincinnati’s best hidden gems, with rotating activities and interactives based on what’s on display at CAM. In honor of Burning Man, REC is featuring a new interactive theme, Express Yourself! which invites kids to participate in radical self-expression through art. Interactives include an immersive interactive art installation by Pam Kravetz entitled “Ace Ramone, Mr. Doodle-Boy, The Peanut and You” that looks like something out of the world of Alice in Wonderland or Tim Burton; a wacky dress-up area, DIY puppets and more.
Your kids will be inspired
Burning Man isn’t meant to just be an experience; it’s a movement. There are 10 principals of Burning Man (including virtues like inclusion, civic responsibility and self-expression), all of which reflect the shared values of this collective art experience. All of the art in Burning Man invites interaction and collaboration between the object and viewer, and it’s really fun to talk to your kids about their reactions with Burning Man. Art is meant to be experienced personally, and what’s so cool about Burning Man is that these interactive installations prompt experiences that are truly unique to each and every participant.
Admission is free
Art shouldn’t be an experience for a privileged few; it’s meant to be enjoyed by everyone. In honor of the Burning Man principle of gifting, admission to No Spectators is free. (In fact, general admission and parking at the Cincinnati Art Museum is always free!)