Metropolitan Museum of Art Adds Science Wing for Kids

Sep 20, 2023

Parents who take their children to art museums usually hope their kids come home with a better understanding of the artistic universe. But the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City is endeavoring to assist kids in learning just a little more: the science behind great art.

The Met’s leaders say understanding how science mixes with art is key to grasping art itself. They’ve reworked library space on the museum’s ground floor. It has been converted into the 81st Street Studio. Children can interact with materials used in art amid the 3,500-square-foot space. The studio is currently focused on wood.

Kids up to 11 years old are able to touch and feel pieces of art. This is unlike other areas of the museum. Outside the studio, patrons can only look from a short distance at artworks.

Heidi Holder is the chair of the Met's education department. She oversees the project. “The Met is a science institution,” she told NPR. She said the Met has "three big parts" to it: scientific research, conservation, and art.

Kids entering the studio are met with wood in various forms: slices of tree trunks, corrugated cardboard, shingles on a house, and a carved wooden screen. "You can touch wood," Holder told NPR. “You can go right up to it and kiss it.”

Other sections include an advanced technology space. Here, kids can play with the physics of light. They can turn dials to make light and shadows move on a 2-dimensional screen that projects a 3D effect.

Patty Brown is a Met volunteer. She told NPR that the hope is some children will ask questions about what they're playing with.

Photo from Unsplash courtesy of Robert Bye.

Reflect: How do you think art and science are connected, and why might it be important to learn about this connection?

According to the information in paragraph four, which is not one of the “three big parts” of the Met? (Common Core RI.5.1; RI.6.1)
a. AI research
b. scientific research
c. art
d. conservation
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