I grew up going to the Detroit Institute of Arts with my awesome Great Aunt Gilda pretty much every year, and other museums here and there, and always enjoyed them. So when I found the San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA) during my googling, I added it to our San Antonio bucket list.

Not only is it a nice, clean, modern, well-maintained museum, but they also have lots of activities for kids and families. Unfortunately, we missed the “First Sunday for Families” event and won't be here for it next month. But if you're visiting San Antonio, here's the information:

Children and families are invited to explore the collections, create art and share Sundays at SAMA. Enjoy interactive fun to include sketching, painting, storytelling, films, performances and more. There’s no need to make a reservation; just stop by as we explore a new gallery each month. This program is free for children 12 and under.

Every second Thursday they also have an “art crawl” for kids under 18 months, and every Wednesday morning there is a play date with activities on a certain topic.

But if you come on your own schedule, not during any of those times, they have cool museum backpacks you can check out at the gift shop, really for ages 6+. They are full of hands-on goodies that correspond to different exhibits in the museum, along with a guide for finding the matches and kid-geared information about each. I asked nicely and promised that Anneliese would be careful with the items inside, and the gift shop lady generously agreed to lend us a backpack even though Anneliese is only three years old.


Anneliese loved finding which pottery matched the pieces in her backpack, comparing her Buddha to the ones in the display cases, learning about camels, horses, silkworms, and more. She also loved climbing all the stairs in the museum, which has several floors of displays.


I had several favorite pieces at the SAMA. One was the awesome mother and child figure above, with one child being cradled and reaching for the breast while the other one climbs onto the mother's shoulders. That's reality.

There was also an amazing Tibetan sand mandala, carefully made by monks a few grains at a time. Usually they're destroyed to symbolize the impermanence of everything, but the Dali Lama gave permission for this one to be preserved. It's one of only four preserved sand mandalas on display in the country.


I also loved this gigantic floor-to-ceiling tapestry in the contemporary area, I think by a Texan artist. I'm not sure. I just called the museum for more information and hopefully I'll get a call back tomorrow.

Dale Chihuly Persian Ceiling San Antonio Museum of Art SAMA

This gorgeous glass piece by Dale Chihuly (LOVE his stuff) has about 150 components and was given to the SAMA after a Chihuly traveling exhibit concluded. Its title is Persian Ceiling. It was so cool to lie on the floor beneath it, and judging from this photo, I don't think I'm the only one who thinks that.

The current traveling exhibit was about Samurai Warriors' artistic weapons and armor, titled Lethal Beauty. This was the Guy's favorite part, but he was disappointed that there wasn't any information about how the swords are made, which he said is super interesting. My favorite part of the exhibit was seeing the beautiful items that were created from the swords and armor after the Samurai were disbanded. Unfortunately, photography wasn't allowed in this exhibit, so I can't share, but it was a really cool thing to see.

If you get the chance to visit the San Antonio Museum of Art with your family, it's definitely worth your time. And if you can schedule your visit around kid-friendly activities, the kids will probably have an even better time than they already would. But if not, those backpacks are awesome for bringing the museum to life for the little ones.


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