Post By Beth Humphrey
One of the major challenges museum educators face with school age children is getting them to slow down and really take a look at the art work. Museum visits are exciting, students are out of their class room, with their friends, my job is to harness that energy. Studies show that museum visitors spend an average of 15-30 seconds looking at a work of art, that is a long time for some younger visitors.
When school groups come to WAAM, students tour all the shows and break into two groups. One group will look at a work of art that has been carefully chosen so the children can be lead through a series of questions “What do you see?”, “What about this picture made you say that?” and “what else do you see?”.
This is a technique called Visual Thinking Strategies, an incredible tool to support inquiry based exploration of a work of art. The students look at and analyze a work of art together, discovering and building from each others comments. We often spent 20 minutes on the picture. The students then switch groups and do a hands on art project inspired by a work of their choice on display. Past projects have included drawing , making puppets, making sculpture and paper mache.
Our goal is get kids engaged and excited about art, art making and the history of WAAM and Woodstock as an artists colony. We want kids to leave here knowing WAAM sees these students as future artists and art lovers. Getting kids to slow down, think about the work is a process of discovery that, hopefully, will help them engage in slow looking at the world around them.
Here are two wonderful articles about slow looking: