Thursday, November 22, 2012

Checking out the Gallerie des Enfants: No French Needed!

I'm in Paris,  having my lunch at the Pompidou Centre's cafe and across the way,  there's the Gallerie des Enfants, the Children's Gallery, which currently has a hands-on exhibit about letters and images.  But what's particularly interesting about an exhibit on that topic is how little text in the conventional sense there is, and how successful it is nonetheless.

Like MassMOCA's children's gallery, which I also love,  the museum assumes that children deserve and should see original artwork and that interactions should spring from that experience.  Here's just a bit of what I observed.

First,  an interactive done with something many of you have in your space where you store things you want to get rid of but don't ever get around to:  an overhead projector.  Children arranged shapes on the projector,  they were projected big so they could see them--but also then,  you could view it from the back, where hands and shapes were in a mysterious dance.  What would happen next?
(This screen was almost as tall as I am).  There were big foam letters to play with.
And lots of other ways to think about letters and shapes.  A big board to flip tiles to make letters;  artwork including letter constructions under glass;  a lightbox art installation of the letter "B" which one mother was intently looking at with her son.
But here's the thing:  there were virtually no labels telling you what to do or what to learn from the experience.  When a little instruction was needed, it was provided graphically.  Below, a pattern recognition and the hot pink illustration was the only information given.
This installation really made me think about my own practice.  Could I do interactives with no instructions just symbols?  Does this require a higher level of trust in your audience?  Do we expect different kinds of learning from art and history organizations?   What do you think?


Ginny MacKenzie Magan said...

This is, of course, the way children first learn, and maybe one of the best ways for us all to learn. Playing and imagining and creating equals learning, maybe no matter WHAT the discipline, and doesn't happen nearly enough. (And of course it doesn't require a museum.) Maybe the most important things these enfants are learning is that learning--and MUSEUMS--are fun. Here's to that!

Linda said...

Ginny--thanks for your comment (and my apologies for slow replying). The play was lovely to watch!