CONTEMPORARY ART FOR CONTEMPORARY KIDS: INTERACTIVE CONTEMPORARY ART EXHIBITIONS DEVELOPED FOR YOUNG VIEWERS
It is common for children to perceive art museums as archival institutions featuring work created by deceased, mythical figures from the past. On the contrary, the arts remain a relevant and vibrant aspect of society led by artists who are very much alive. While art education for elementary-aged individuals typically focuses on artistic masters entrenched in the canon of art history, it is also worth introducing children to the art of today. As interactive artwork becomes increasingly popular in contemporary art institutions, artists have also been commissioned to create work or interactive spaces designed especially for young audiences. My thesis explores four art institutions with galleries devoted to collaborating with contemporary artists to create exhibitions and work of high caliber for children. Through extensive research and more than seventeen interviews with artists, curators, and museum educators, I have investigated the challenges and benefits of introducing children to contemporary art in interactive environments. My research focuses on the following themes and issues: artist selection and the logistics of interactivity, teaching traditional museum behaviros in interactive galleries, the incorporation of curricular standards in programming and exhibition development, and maintaining artistic integrity in children's art exhibitions. Finally, I explore the dearth of contemporary art education for children and the importance of exposing young museumgoers to the art of their time.