Discover art with your children at the Junior Museum of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. You may find that you have a budding Romare Bearden in the family.
The Junior museum has been cultivating young minds since it opened in 1941. It conducts weekend and holiday programs for youngsters 5 to 15 years old. The program begins at 10:15 a.m. with a brief slide show in the Junior Library. At the conclusion of the slideshow, Penelope Proddow, Program Director, distributes pencils and paper to the youngsters and encourages them to go on a gallery hunt — children under 7 and older search for original artwork, and make quick sketches of them and return to the library with their visual representations. The youngsters’ sketches are surprisingly accurate.
At 1 p.m., children and parents again assemble for Art Tells a Story in the library. There Ms. Proddow narrates a story aided by slides. The story and slide show include works of art dealing with that day’s specific theme. The youngsters also answer questions relating to the early morning slide presentation.
An important part of Art Tells a Story is that it motivates youngsters to closely observe the painting, sculptures, instruments and other items presented; this close scrutiny trains the eye to probe, not just be satisfied with initial images. Talk about do-it-yourselfer kits that make things easy, this program makes art interesting and most easy to understand.
Your young Beardens, Maynards, or Lawrences will love the Studio Workshop. Susan Kleinman opens this hour-long session with a brief discussion on the day’s gallery program and the museum’s collection. The studio workshops explore fundamentals of art including line, shape, pattern and texture. Through reference to the museum’s collections, the youngsters are introduced to the vocabulary and traditions of art.
This workshop is an extremely popular; youngsters are encouraged to be creative — and creative they are; pasting, cutting, drawing, painting and using brightly colored papers and pretty ornaments. The workshop is limited to 25 young artists per session to permit instructors to give individual assistance. Tickets for the session cost $1 and are sold on a first-come, first-served basis. There are two sessions daily — one at 1:30, the other at 3 p.m.
The staff-guided programs end at 3 o’clock but no need to go home. Go to the Art Demonstration instead. There you’ll learn about brush strokes, brush sizes, how different brush effects are achieved, stretching canvas, paints and different effects made with pallet knives. These things all take on special meaning when the youngsters can actually see them.
When the demonstration is over, there is the library with its more than 3,000 books of background information on the museum’s collections. Pre-schoolers have a picture book section reserved for them. There is a snack bar where the youngsters can buy soup, sandwiches, hamburgers, and beverages.
The Artist Workshop — Tools and Techniques is the Junior Museum’s present gallery exhibition. It gives an introduction to the variety of materials and techniques used in painting, graphic arts, pottery and other media. Original works of art, peephole viewers, films and a life-size painter’s studio are used to demonstrate the preparation and use of materials.
The programs are thorough; the day is well spent. Many youngsters go quite frequently to the various programs, and the rising level of their art appreciation reflects this exposure.
The Junior Museum also conducts ongoing, in-depth, art classes throughout the school week. The fees begin at $50 for the courses. The museum, in conjunction with the Board of Education, grants free scholarships to children who are very talented and/or very interested in art. If your child qualifies, please inquire at the public school. Teachers can obtain information on the scholarships by calling the museum. Their commendation for a scholarship must come from the student’s art teacher.