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Art Packs: Portable, Interactive Arts Activities for Young Museum Visitors

Today’s guest blogger is by Rachel Wendte, an intern in the IMA’s Development Department.

Children are immersive. When they color a picture, for example, only the most disciplined will keep their colors inside the lines. The truly passionate artist will extend their colors to the edge of the page, onto the table, and all over their hands and arms. In everything they do, children look to be active participants; experiencing the artistic process in the most intuitive way possible.

Now imagine one of those little artists, full of their own passion, curiosity, and creativity, and taking them to the IMA. Everywhere they look their eyes land on items they want to investigate further. The questions start flowing, “How did the painter make those colors?” “What’s that made of?” “How did the artist put all of those pieces together?”

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You would like to help, to encourage discovery, but despite your best intentions, another phrase slips from your mouth instead: “Don’t touch.”

Don’t touch. That phrase may be one of the quickest ways to deter an inquisitive mind. Dejected, your little one may spend the rest of the visit silently viewing the art on display, wishing there was something they could do to connect to the art without damaging it. To not only see, but to engage with art on a level that speaks to their imagination.

For every budding creative out there, for every art detective, and for every child who desires to experience art on their terms, the IMA would like to offer our inaugural Art Packs program.

Launching this summer, the Art Packs program will be a way for children visiting the IMA to experience works of art through structured activities that enable them to create for themselves while priceless art is preserved. Every Art Pack will contain materials centered on a theme such as line, shape, color, or pattern. All the items in each Pack will work with the theme to generate activities that correspond to particular objects in the IMA’s collection.

The themes are the blueprint, but visitors are the designers! Each family that tries an Art Pack has the opportunity to use a theme as a guide for their own self-directed exploration. This way, visitors control how they spend their time, focusing on the elements they find most interesting and appropriate for their child. Families can use a variety of methods, including games, critical thinking, clues, and museum-safe art projects to better understand the collections on view and the artistic principles behind them. With activities that encourage questions, facilitate learning, and add interactivity to a museum visit, what’s not to love?

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Not only will Art Packs increase familiarity with the Museum’s collection, but they will serve as a fun and tangible way for children to engage with art and empower parents with knowledge they can use to help their children learn about art.

The IMA hopes to receive funding for the Art Packs program via power2give.org, a project-specific donation website that our friends at the Arts Council of Indianapolis partnered with last December. If this sounds like a project you can get behind, check out the project page by the IMA to read more about Art Packs and consider a donation. You can donate as little or as much as you like and certain amounts will entitle you to extra benefits. The banner benefit is an invitation to test out the Art Packs prior to their public launch, giving you an exclusive chance to see how your donation will benefit visitors! Your help will bring 40 Art Packs to the IMA. They will be free and used frequently, putting your donation to work many times over.

Making the galleries fun for kids while keeping the art safe is something amazing. We would love your help in making this project a reality!

Filed under: Audience Engagement, Education, Guest Bloggers

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