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FeedithNOLA: NOMA + baby a winning combination

An art museum may not be the first place that comes to mind when planning baby’s next outing, but with NOMA's free admission to Louisiana residents on Wednesdays, there was no harm in trying.
On Edith's first visit to NOMA, I readied my exit strategy: the free Sculpture Garden or walk around City Park's Big Lake. Now, I feel like we're more adventurous with our baby than most -- it's hard to name a restaurant that Edith hasn't been to -- but I was still nervous. It's a baby. In a (hush) museum.
My #1 piece of advice for dining out with a child is to select a restaurant noisy enough to eclipse the sound of a baby ... not possible at a museum. Of course, in true New Orleans fashion, other museum visitors were just as happy to smile at Edith as they were to see the latest exhibit. The elementary students on field trips bounded between sculptures, gleefully raising their hands as their tour guide asked them questions. It took all of 90 seconds for me to relax.
Once we got rolling, I got Edith out of her stroller at each major stop. Museum lighting isn't built for someone 2 feet off the ground; the glare makes some paintings impossible to see. I pointed out different colors to Edith throughout the modern art collection and took an embarrassing number of pictures. Be warned and learn from my experience: Look beyond the pretty colors to the content of the art before posting a picture of your baby to Facebook. Modern art can get pretty, ahem, provocative. Aside from this unfortunate incident, NOMA is definitely FeedithNOLA approved for babies everywhere.
Top 5 reasons to take your baby to NOMA:
  1. You’ll say amazingly pretentious things after your visit: "Edith's a fan of the Baroque period." and "She doesn't care for Impressionists." Translated: She likes bold colors, clear lines, and looking at pictures of babies (e.g. Jesus), and she didn't care as much for landscapes with blurry lines and muted tones.
  2. Your baby won't judge you: You know what I’m talking about. The unspoken pressure to say something profound: “His early work was strong, but this new work is merely derivative…” (?!) The step back from a painting, head tilt, and forced look of epiphany. The beads of sweat that form as you dig deep into your mental archives for something (anything!) from that single art history class you took in college … Your baby won’t care about any of that! Just smile at her and point out the other baby in the painting.
  3. You need a break from the baby stuff: I love Sandra Boyton as much as the next girl, but a grown woman can only take so much Little Pookie before going a little bonkers. As new parents, we spend A LOT of time immersed in our baby’s world. Take an afternoon to bring them into your world. (Or at least the world of your pseudo-intellectual-22-year-old-self.)
  4. You’ve been wanting to go anyway: When I was 22, I was determined to nurture my budding intellectualism and continue as a life-long learner after college. Unsurprisingly, life got in the way. Sure, I'd visit a museum when on vacation every once in a while, but the art museum two miles from my house went untouched for the better part of the decade. Maternity leave gave me the opportunity to reconnect to my former self while also embracing my new identity as a mother.
  5. It will remind you to slow down: Edith made no distinction between the 400-year-old painting on the wall, the skylights in the foyer, and the tree outside. Through her eyes, everything is beautiful. Make a point to see the world through your child's eyes, even if just for the afternoon.
There's one final lagniappe: It's (probably) good for your baby's development! Buried in the smattering of parenting articles read in a sleep-deprived haze, I recall someone said that it's good for a baby's social development to point out the connection between facial expression and emotion. This was in reference to children's books, but surely the same is true for art. Though I can't fully vouch for the developmental benefits, parents and baby alike are sure to have a lovely time.

Kim Frusciante is an educator, Tulane alumna, and new mom who loves all things New Orleans. Though she wishes she could claim to be a native New Orleanian, she will happily settle for raising one instead. Kim is passionate about enjoying the culture of our city with her daughter, Edith, and helping others to do the same with their little ones. Let Edith be your test-baby: Email Kim at [email protected]. Follow Kim (well, Edith…) on Instagram @feedithnola, and visit her blog at feedithnola.com.