Galleries connecting kids with art

CHILDREN have multiple opportunities to directly learn about art. 

Galleries enable children to learn more about art.Galleries enable children to learn more about art. (Source: SME)

Teachers sometimes take their classes to visit galleries where students get in touch with original art. The aim of the special programmes, designed by galleries across Slovakia, is not only to raise the interest of young people in art, but also to teach them to think critically and express their own opinions on what they see in the picture, teachers and gallery educators say.

“It is important to find ways of drawing youth and to reveal the beauties of fine arts, culture, and to messages hidden in colours, forms, and the lives of creative spirits from every era,” art teacher Miloš Kmeť from the school in Novohradská Street in Bratislava told The Slovak Spectator.

Though some programmes by galleries for schools were established long ago, they have gradually developed and, in some cases, they are designed based on the individual requirements of schools, galleries addressed by The Slovak Spectator said. 

They agree that these kinds of activities bring art closer to the children and teach them to better understand their meaning.

“Educating about art and for art enables children to better read the visual language,” Vladislav Malast, gallery educator from the Slovak National Gallery (SNG), told The Slovak Spectator.

Special programmes for children, adults and seniors are now considered commonplace for a modern gallery as this not only brings life to its spaces but is also a cheap investment for forming visitors of every age, said artist and jewellery designer Ivana Poruban Santová, 27, from Trenčianska Teplá.
“In some countries they have even become part of the educational process,” Poruban Santová told The Slovak Spectator.

Tailor-made programmes 

“Gallery pedagogy is one of the bridges which connect the exhibited work, author and visitor to the gallery,” Luboš Hamaj from the Gallery of M. A. Bazovský in Trenčín told The Slovak Spectator.

The special programmes for schools in this Trenčín gallery date back to the 1980s. Currently, it organises about 220 special events connecting the exhibitions with creative activities every year, focusing not only on schoolchildren, but also on adults and seniors.

In the SNG, schools can choose from programmes based on exhibitions, topics and age. Sometimes the topics are connected also with the school subjects, which is welcomed by teachers, Malast explained. One of the recent exhibitions is called the Liquid Muse, which has links to chemistry. They also offer programmes focusing on theatre performances and creative readings.

In the Bratislava City Gallery (GMB), the programmes try to offer a broader context through creating actual art pieces. They are composed of two parts: the theoretical part and a creative workshop, explained GMB gallery educator Petra Baslíková.

GMB also organises the national education programme titled “Art from Near” for pupils aged 10-15 which has already been attended by more than 330 schools. It works in a way that the gallery issues a catalogue with seven reproductions of works from its collections and teaching materials which it then sends to schools. The children then draw the pictures in their own way and send them back. The best pictures are exhibited alongside the originals.

The project’s idea is interesting as well as the methodological approach, said Kmeť, who together with his students has attended the programme twice.

“Children perceived it as part of their education,” he said, “the only difference was that they had a feeling they were part of something bigger.”

The programmes in the East Slovak Gallery (VSG), which started being systematically organised in 2009, are connected to particular actual exhibitions. They are very specific and depend on the concept of the exhibition or the art technique the artist used, explained VSG gallery educator Viera Dandárová.

The schools choose from various activities and search mostly for the programmes where children can actively participate, she added.

Also the Nitra Gallery offers a variety of educational activities, from lectures focused on interpretation of the oeuvres, short animations, workshops lasting two hours and also education programmes. 

“All activities are focused on three aims: the concept of exhibition and specifics of exhibits, the formal side of art, and pupils’ own works inspired by the philosophy and concept of the selected piece from a contemporary exhibition,” Elena Tarábková of the gallery explained.

Visitors to the Stanica-Žilina Záriečie can also find special events for schools, started in 2006, which focus on “evoking perception of schoolchildren towards art”, meaning that they show some work to children and wait for their response, said Hana Hudovičová Lukšů, responsible for programmes for children, families and schools.

“We let children reveal and share their discoveries among one another,” she told The Slovak Spectator, adding that their experience shows that together, and with help from lecturers, they can also decode the more difficult concepts of a work of art without knowing about them in advance. They also offer special language classes in English at which they discuss the exhibition, she added.

Art impacts personality

The galleries’ projects help pupil to familiarise themselves directly with art, says Dagmar Kochanová, art class teacher from the primary school at Benkova street in Nitra. She sometimes visits exhibitions with students and has also attended some special programmes.

Pupils should attend similar activities “so their aesthetic perception of the world develops more intensively and they learn more about our culture”, she told The Slovak Spectator.

“It is important to know the history of art, just like to know about your own past,” artist Ela Bodnárová, 31, from Gbelce, told The Slovak Spectator.

Kmeť agrees, but points to the availability and quality of these programmes, especially for schools which are not close to the galleries.

 “Every project which addresses children and develops their creativity is beneficial for the present but also for their future,” Bodnárová said, adding it is important that they meet good lecturers who will “guide them in right direction”.

 People often underestimate the impact of the animation programmes on the person’s development, said Poruban Santová, adding that it is not only about creating the relation to art and culture. As these activities are done in a playful way in order to have fun and also learn something.

“Children get used to thinking creatively, select the information and perceive the aesthetic values in current weary world, and connect the visual arts with various spheres of everyday life,” Poruban Santová said. 

This article is published as part of Spectator College, a programme created by The Slovak Spectator  with the support of Petit Academy Foundation. A glossary of words as well as an exercise related to this article are also published online.

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