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Blog: My Little Farm in Town

Frugal Family Fun: An Art Museum Outing

Thursday, January 13, 2011

One of the resolutions we made for the year 2011 was to try to make Sunday afternoons family time. It is January and both property and quarterly income tax time, plus there isn’t much snow and the wind chill is below 0F! What is a frugal (aka just about broke) family to do? Answer: Look around for a free indoor activity that will interest everyone.

If you have a university near you, be sure to check their website for free activities they might have to offer your family. The University of Wisconsin Madison is within easy driving distance of our little farm in town and has a lot to offer. In the summer, there is the Allen Centennial garden, Picnic Point, Indian mounds, Lake Mendota, and there are a couple of museums that are open all year.

The museum we visited this Sunday was the Chazen Museum of Art ( It cost us a little under $2.00 to park in a nearby ramp, and it was a short walk to the museum. Admittance was free, and it was open until 6:00 p.m. which made it an easy place to visit on a Sunday afternoon. The featured exhibit was illuminated manuscripts. If we had wanted, we could have stopped here, but we decided to move on into the main galleries.

A note of caution: If you are concerned about your children seeing the undraped human form, you will have to be highly selective in most art museums. Our child is of an age and stage in development that we were comfortable taking her through most of the museum. There was one area of the collection that we decided wasn’t appropriate, and fortunately, it was easily bypassed.

On the way home, we talked about what our favorite art pieces were and why. My favorite painting was big and brilliant and told a dramatic story ( ). I also enjoyed the abstract sculpture ( . We all thought the illuminated manuscripts would have made the trip worthwhile even if we hadn't viewed any other part of the museum!

I was more than satisfied with our first family outing of the year. I can hardly wait until next week! Begonia

4 Comments | Post Feedback


Friday, January 14, 2011 | By Jess

Hi, sounds like a great time. I love museums myself but they sure can be expensive for the nicest ones. One thing that the Portland Art Museum does is allow free admittance on the 4th Friday of every month. Of course, it is packed but it is a great way to be able to go on the cheap. I think many museums have programs like this so it would be worth checking out.

If you live in a good sized town, lots of galleries have art walks on certain days of the month, First Tuesday or Last Thursday. Depending on the gallery, this might not be such a good place for kids but might be a nice frugal date night. There are often appetizers and even wine.

Another thing that a lot of people don't know is that libraries sometimes have passes that they can check out for zoos, museums, science centers and other attractions. Libraries are a wonderful resource for frugal folk.

Good Tips!
Saturday, January 15, 2011 | By begonia

We have several arts communities in our area as well. In the spring and fall, there are free art tours in the town and country during which you can visit artists' studios where their collected works are displayed for the weekend. There are no refreshments, but many artiists demonstrate their techniques in various media and you can talk to them about their art.

The Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota, Libraries have free passes to various museums and zoos in the metro area if anyone reading this is from that area of the country.

family time is fun!
Saturday, January 15, 2011 | By MzScarlett

I have always enjoyed playing cards, uno, scrabble, clue, sorry, chinese checkers, regular checkers etc with the kids; even my grandkids enjoy playing poker; they know that the casino's are huge, fancy and have the "entertainers" etc, because gambling is not good; like burning money;
but we have played with pennies, beans, and advanced to poker chips! many times we have a "night" for poker; with appropriate food, like pizza, etc; and really and truly enjoy these!

Thanks for the great frugal family activity!
Monday, January 17, 2011 | By begonia

Game nights are a great frugal activity. What a great time you must have with the grandkids! I have a lot of the games you mentioned, and my daughter and I play sometimes. My husband, unfortunately, isn't a game player, so we don't play games as a family much.

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