Preparation to Visit an Art Museum

How do kids become engaged with works of art?

© Marvin Bartel, January 2011

  1. In my experience, museum visits go better for children who have had frequent practice in thoughtfully asking and answering questions and making discoveries in their own artwork and in the artwork of their friends in their studio art class.

  2. Children are more engaged if they have had frequent practice looking at and making discoveries in one or two examples from art history after they finished an artwork with some similar processes and/or concepts. Doing their own work first helps them identify with the ideas used to create the historical examples.

  3. Young children are more easily engaged in works of art in a museum if they have learned in their class to act out and make movements based directly on visual things, if they have learned create sounds to interpret visual things, and if they have learned to describe the tastes and feelings of visual things.

  4. Young children are more easily engaged in works of art in a museum if they have learned to use their imaginations to place themselves into the artwork that they learning about. "Look at these two paintings. How many would rather be in this painting, and how many would rather would rather be inside of this painting? Why?


    I do not expect children to copy museum work in their own artwork, but I want them to identify with the MOTIVATIONS and CREATIVE STRATEGIES of the artists.
    My question are: "Why did the artist do this? How would it look DIFFERENT if you would have done it? Why would it look DIFFERENT if another artist made it? The other teachers in our schools are teaching nearly everything by showing kids examples to copy. As a result they do not realize that in art they may falsely assume that we also want them to imitate what we see instead of how we think and feel about what we see and experience.

    BEHAVIOR PREPARATION    I do not expect students to know and understand the museum expectations for behavior and empathy for other museum visitors. Therefore expectations are carefully explained, practiced, and reviewed in advance. This is again reviewed upon arrival with a series of questions.

      See this page on Reverse Engineering (backward planning). This page describes a webquest on art history.


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also see: Creativity Killers

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Updated: January, 2011 Author bio  contact the author