Blue Star Museums Blog (Archive)

Blue Star Voices

Norfolk, Virginia

Don't Touch Anything! A Morning at the Chrysler Museum of Art

Michelle Galvez (l) and her family toured the Chrysler Museum of Art with U.S. Senator Mark Warner of Virginia.

Before entering the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia, on Thursday, my kids were strenuously warned to use their inside voices and walking feet, and to look with their eyes but not with their hands. I truly enjoy introducing my children to art and culture, but I was a bit nervous about the potential for too up close and personal interaction between them and the priceless and breakable masterpieces inside. I needn’t have worried because between the red, white, and blue cupcakes and jobs as museum detectives, my kids were engaged and behaved.

The occasion was the local Hampton Roads celebration of the Blue Star Museums program with more than 850 museums across America offering free admission to military personnel and their families this summer as a Blue Star Families initiative between the National Endowment for the Arts and participating museums. Thursday’s event included comments by U.S. Senator Mark Warner, Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim, and Rear Admiral Mark Boensel, Commander Navy Region Mid-Atlantic.

The speakers welcomed the military families in the audience by talking about their appreciation for the sacrifices made by military members and the need for communities to support their families through programs like Blue Star Museums. Boensel said how important these initiatives are not just for families but for overall mission readiness of the military. “When our service members can do their jobs because the community is taking care of our families then readiness stays up,” he said.

According to Warner, “This is a nice way to demonstrate support for our military personnel and their families, and I congratulate the Chrysler Museum and all of the other Virginia cultural sites that have stepped up to partner with the Blue Star Museums program.”

Attendees were encouraged to explore the museum’s galleries, including 30,000 works of art. We had the opportunity to tour a couple of the exhibitions with a very knowledgeable docent and Senator Warner. Nothing was broken or even really breathed on, and my kiddos had the opportunity for some summer learning in an art scavenger hunt.

As museum detectives, they navigated a map of the museum, searched for portraits of famous people from history and answered questions about them. They even got a free souvenir from the gift shop for turning in their completed maps. An educational but fun break from our daily summer pool routine, the visit to the air-conditioned museum was also a welcome respite from our July heat wave. The intellectual impact was even felt throughout the day as their spontaneous dinner table conversation included debates about who liked what painting best, why so many of the statues were naked, how heavy that sarcophagus must have been, and if their wishes made at the outdoor fountain would come true.

Blue Star Museums runs through Labor Day, September 6, 2010. The free admission program is available to active-duty military, reservists, National Guard members and five of their immediate family members. Go here for a list of participating museums, which includes more than 60 in Virginia.

Michelle Galvez is a member of  Blue Star Families and a Navy spouse living in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia.  

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