|Fruit so realistic Little C&G said "I'm starving"|
Looking for something cheap and easy to do with the kiddos this summer? I'm sure neither of those words come to mind when you think of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Tuition might be astronomical but it doesn't cost a penny to wander their gorgeous campus and take in some world class art. Van Gogh, Rodin, Picasso, and Andy Warhol all decorate the walls of the fabulous and absolutely free Yale University Art Gallery.
Less than two hours from NYC (either by car or Metro North train) is where you'll find an outstanding collection of art hidden behind the ivy covered stone walls of Yale University. The museum is perfectly sized for little kiddos, unlike the Metropolitan Museum of Art (read about our visit here) and there's a Shake Shack just a few minutes walk down the street for when your crew is ready for a shake break.
Family programs run throughout the school year (weekends only) so during the summer months stop by the information desk in the lobby to pick up self-guided activity packs, worksheets, and drawing materials. We like to pick out a few postcards (available for sale on the wall as you walk in to the museum) for a game of iSpy, the boys have to track their cards down in the galleries and they come in handy when they need something to draw on as we sit around during lunch, cocktails, or dinner.
After a quick lounge on the chic and modern low couches in the living room-like lobby head into the Ancient Art collection to see what the fictional Indiana Jones might have contributed had he been a Yalie. Beautiful mosaic tiles hang on the walls as they would have in Babylonian times and see if your kiddos can match up the marble busts with anyone they know.
Archaeology students from the early 1900s explored the globe in search of hidden treasures (and possibly the Lost Ark, the Temple of Doom and the Holy Grail) and the remaining exhibits on the ground floor show off their discoveries. A kiosk lets the kiddos explore how the students excavated important sites in present-day Syria and many of the objects are on display in the surrounding cases.
As you head up the spiral stone staircase you also go forward in art history. The second floor houses an amazing collection of European art, along with American and Asian art. Degas' dancers are on view alongside a small bronze of Rodin's The Thinker, and you can get close (not too close) to Van Gogh's colorful Le Café de Nuit. Search out the little alcove of realistic still life paintings in the American wing that started Little C&G down the "What's for lunch? I'm starving" path.
After a quick tour of the modern and contemporary collection on the third floor you'll be ready for some burgers and milkshakes. Our stops in New Haven usually coincide with the long drive back to Maine or the short drive to the grandparents in NY, so unfortunately cocktails are out of the question. A tall, frosty vanilla milkshake from Shake Shack is the next best thing.
Shake Shack has notoriously long lines at their restaurants around the world but I'm guessing with most of the student population back at home or slaving away at their summer internships you won't have any problem finding seats at the wooden tables. Be sure to save room for the Yale-themed desserts, Little C&G was very intrigued by the Skull & Cones frozen treat. We told him he could only order it if someone came up and tapped him on the shoulder.