Q&A: Mille Maria Steffen-Nielsen of @rockthatmuseumkid
For a while now, we have been following Mille Maria Steffen-Nielsen's growing curated Instagram account @rockthatmuseumkid.
She started the @rockthatmuseumkid Instagram account in 2014, where she has inspired thousands of moms (and dads too) to share photos of their kids, babies, toddlers, tweens and teens appreciating and experiencing art in museums and galleries all around the world. We had the opportunity to do a Q&A with Mille Maria Steffen-Nielsen and here's what she shared with us.
Briefly introduce yourself.
I’m Mille Maria Steffen-Nielsen. I live in the Nørrebro area of Copenhagen, Denmark. I have two girls, Olivia (5 years old) and Isabella (4 years old), and my boyfriend also has two girls, and also works in a museum. I’m the Communications and Marketing Manager at Ordrupgaard Museum North of Copenhagen. Ordrupgaard is a beautiful place with lots of great art. Everything from Monet, Degas and Danish golden age painters and artists like Hammershøi and L.A. Ring to contemporary art stars like Olafur Eliasson, Jeppe Hein, Simon Starling and Carsten Höller.
I grew up in a small town called Humlebæk, very close to the famous Danish art museum Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. I went there a lot as a kid, and thus discovered my love for art at a very early age. Even though I work in a museum, I spend most of my spare time in other museums (often with my two girls in tow). We have such a great time looking at paintings, sculptures and running in museum parks (fortunately my girls seem to love art spaces almost as much as I do).
Who are your favorite artists?
I have many favorites, but to mention a few, I’d probably say Tomás Saraceno is pretty high on the list. I simply LOVE the aesthetics in his biospheres, his almost floating installations or his smaller mobiles or web constructions.
What does art mean to you?
Everything. I have loved art since I was a kid, and I always knew that I just had to find a job in the art world. Art makes us think about the world in new ways, and it can surprise, shock or challenge us.
I’ve always spent a lot of time in museums and galleries, and I guess I always will. Art adds perspective and beauty to my life, that I wouldn’t want to live without.
How would you encourage other moms (or dads) to get their kids involved with art appreciation?
When my eldest daughter Olivia was born, I decided that I would continue living my life as I had done before. Of course I realized that this would be difficult, but I was determined. When Olivia was just a few months old, I took her museum hopping in Copenhagen, and we had a decent time without that many crisis moments. After that, I started taking her more often, in a stroller or in a baby sling, and sometimes she slept for the whole trip and I got to have a nice and quiet time with the art.
So I would tell parents to simply start taking their kids to galleries and museums – that’s the first step. Many parents give up before they even leave the house because they're afraid their kids will be bored, make a scene or destroy something expensive. I’ve talked to so many parents who were very pleasantly surprised when they finally took the kids to a museum – their little ones were interested in the paintings on the walls, and seemed to genuinely enjoy the experience. Kids are really great at looking at art. They see all sorts of things that we adults completely miss, and their imagination is a great help, especially with abstract art.
When I’m with my girls in a museum, I make sure to talk to them about the art that we see, and listen to their opinion and answer their many, many questions. They enjoy the experience and like all kids, they love hanging out with their parents and having their full attention without cellphones, iPads and TVs.
How do you juggle your career and being a mom as well?
It’s difficult, but not impossible. I try to make my girls a part of what I do as much as I can. I often take them to Ordrupgaard where I work, and they know the place very well. They love the garden here, and they know the museum inside and out.
Since the combination of social media and art is also a big part of my job, I feel very fortunate that I get to bring my girls to exhibitions. That’s why I started the Instagram profile @rockthatmuseumkid. I also really like that they know and understand what I do.
All this being said, it’s still sometimes difficult to juggle everything, but it helps a great deal to have a job that you love and feel passionate about.