A birthday party at the Columbus Museum of Art

Charlotte Glover is a budding artist. So for her third birthday, her parents planned a party at the Columbus Museum of Art.

"She loves to paint. She loves coming here," said her mother, Jennifer Glover. "We tried to pick something that suited her personality."

The New Albany girl was a little on the young side for the parties normally offered by the museum, so her mother, an active volunteer with the museum, organized the event herself.

She rented the museum's studio space and created a party geared to three-year-olds. Glover covered the tables with brown paper and set out art supplies for the children to create with. Each party guest received a monogrammed apron upon arrival and a canvas on which to paint.

Glover thought the children would enjoy painting on a canvas rather than plain old paper. "It's more authentic," she said. "We thought it might be something they haven't done at home, that it would be more special."

Three-year-old Tara Twomey said painting on a canvas made her feel like a real artist. And the Westerville girl was looking forward to hanging her artwork in her bedroom later.

In between dabbing paint on their masterpieces, the youngsters nibbled on snacks. Glover served hummus and carrots, fruit and animal crackers.

Per Charlotte's request, her mom baked miniature chocolate cupcakes for dessert. Glover decorated the cupcakes with chocolate glaze and art-themed picks.

After her guests sang "Happy Birthday," Charlotte pulled out her candles and eagerly ate her cupcake.

With the birthday business out of the way, the young artists headed to the museum's new Wonder Room to play. The kids molded clay, created mixed-up wooden animals and built mobiles in the newly renovated space.

After play time, the youngsters packed up their aprons and paintings, which served as party favors. Glover said she purposely avoided candy and disposable trinkets.

"I don't like getting stuff that just ends up in the garbage when we get home," she said. "I like giving stuff that they'll remember."

Birthday Parties at the Columbus Museum of Art
Parents can choose from three party themes pirate, magic and mystery, and outer space adventure - geared for children aged 5 to 11. The parties offer a hands-on experience with art. Each party includes admission to CMA, age-appropriate gallery experiences, use of thematic costumes and decorations, an art-making activity, invitations and more. Costs: CMA members: $175 for up to 12 children; nonmembers: $200 for up to 12 children; Cake and punch: $50 per 12 children (but guests can opt to bring their own cake and punch). Contact Pam Edwards at 614-629-0312.