In honor of Spring Break at the Denver Art Museum (March 18-April 2, except Mondays) we put together this list of some of the ways art helps children grow and develop, with tips on creative activities kids and families can do at the museum. (Youth 18 and younger always receive free general admission at the DAM.)
1. Art builds lifelong skills. In addition to developing kids’ motor skills through activities like drawing, sculpting, and painting, art can help build other skills important in a school or work environment. Children learn from making their own art—and from experiencing the work of other artists—the importance of focus, experimentation, taking risks, and making mistakes.
The DAM offers chances to draw, construct, design, and more. Families can experiment with artmaking throughout the museum. There are programs and activities for all ages.
2. Art fosters imagination and creativity. Although children naturally use their imaginations as they play and create, art can feed their creative minds and push them to explore new possibilities. Seeing and creating art allows kids to experience the world in new ways, through exploring different senses, mediums, and tools.
At the DAM, families can go on the hunt and solve mysteries with Foxy and Shmoxy: Art Detectives and see artworks come alive in the play Art Emergency 2: Code Redder. These unique museum theater programs engage kids through conversation, dynamic storytelling, and active looking at artworks.
3. Art is a great way to explore feelings and build empathy. As a form of nonverbal communication, art allows kids to process and express their feelings, both big and small. Reflecting upon their work and art by others can help kids build empathy and a deeper understanding of other people.
There are many opportunities to talk to artists about their work at the museum. Also, kids can step into an artwork-inspired costume in the Just for Fun Family Center or Discovery Library and explore how what they’re wearing might change their perspective.
4. Art can help build kids’ confidence. It’s important to give kids the freedom and space to experiment and create. So much can be learned from the process of making and practicing. According to the blog The Artful Parent, the purpose for allowing kids the opportunity to make and dabble with materials is “not to produce career artists but to raise children who are confident and comfortable with their creativity in whatever form it takes.”
The DAM offers many spaces with safe, low-pressure places to play and create, including the Just for Fun Family Center, the Studio, and the gallery Creative Corners. Our summer classes let kids dive deep into topics that interest them and experiment with art in a supportive setting.
5. Art provides a way to experience and appreciate our world. Art is a common ground that connects us as people and as members of a global community. It has the ability to expose kids to new perspectives and ideas and to challenge them to think about what it means to be a person living in this world.
Artworks in our collection put the world at your fingertips. Check out a Family Backpack and explore a gallery in greater depth through artmaking, games, and a variety of other activities.
6. Art is all around us! As kids make their own art and visit art museums, they build a familiarity with art. Jacqueline Terrassa, Chair of Museum Education at the Art Institute of Chicago, explains that “making art familiar, an everyday event, rather than something isolated, also helps children become comfortable with it.” Visiting art museums—and taking advantage of opportunities to make and create while there—can help make kids more comfortable with visiting other cultural institutions in the future.
The DAM offers so many programs, exhibitions, and activities that there is no way to do everything in just one visit! With our constant rotation of exhibitions and programs, there is always something new to see, talk about, or make.
Natalie Ruhe Thomas, coordinator of family and community programs, also contributed to this blog.