“Sometimes I have a hard time sitting still, but never when I come to Kidspace!” – Connor, age 10
A child-centered art gallery where professional, contemporary artists exhibit their work, Kidspace is also a hands-on studio where children create and study art. The art chosen for exhibition is used as a vehicle for discussing contemporary social issues, making evident topics of concern to children, and challenging notions about art and art materials. Key to this curatorial vision is that we do not “kiddify” or “dumb-down” exhibitions for children. Artists are selected for their works’ educational and artistic merit, and exhibitions have featured renowned artists from around the world, including Long-Bin Chen, Devorah Sperber, Portia Munson, Lisa Hoke, Willie Birch, Gajin Fujita, and Tim Rollins and K.O.S. Since 2000, Kidspace @ MASS MoCA has mounted 25 major thematic exhibitions, and contributed to DownStreet Arts with special exhibitions and a permanent installation—The Bus Stand. Teacher activity guides are developed for each exhibition.
Kidspace at MASS MoCA has a long history of collaboration with the North Adams Public Schools and the North Berkshire School Union through curriculum-based gallery visits and hands-on workshops, artist residencies, and after school programs.
Kidspace School Programs
The Kidspace school program reaches every teacher and student in the North Adams Public Schools and the North Berkshire School Union. By the time they reach high school, these students have had more than a dozen high-quality, deep and extended engagements with new art and living artists, and have made multiple visits to MASS MoCA and Kidspace. Groups from other schools are also invited to participate in gallery visits to Kidspace. The Kidspace @ MASS MoCA pedagogy features inquiry-based tours with art-making activities and multiple approaches to learning, including guided visualization, intensely focused discussion, and even yoga!
Kidspace Artist Residencies
Kidspace organizes an extensive artist residency program with the professional artists who are featured in Kidspace exhibitions. These artists visit the six public schools to work with students on art projects using materials and artistic processes similar to their own. A teen artist residency program is often organized with a professional artist working with a group of local high school students to create artwork for downtown North Adams. When possible, Kidspace brings in local artists, writers, and other creative professionals to also conduct residency programs relating to themes in Kidspace exhibits.
Kidspace offers after school programming in collaboration with the North Adams Public Schools. Students visit the museum for 16 sessions to work on art projects and visit the galleries.
Students who are involved in Kidspace have significantly more arts education throughout their Pre-K–8th grade experience. An average 8th grader will graduate from the public elementary Pre-K–8 grade school having around 220 hours of art education in his/her school, and additional 100 hours or more through Kidspace. Bottom line is that Kidspace contributes almost 45% more time and content to the arts education curriculum.
Art-making opportunities are embedded in Kidspace exhibitions, making it possible for visitors to process their understanding of art by creating artistic responses while viewing the artwork—an experience that is rare in museums and galleries. Art projects relate to Kidspace exhibition themes and may involve similar art materials or artistic processes used by exhibiting artists. Open to the public on weekends, school holidays, and summer days.
Kidspace at MASS MoCA received the prestigious 2009 Massachusetts Arts Education Collaborative Distinguished Community Arts Collaborative Award. Given by the Massachusetts Arts Education Collaborative division of the National Arts Learning Collaborative, this award recognizes programs and institutions that provide, support and advocate for quality arts education in the Commonwealth.
Kidspace @ MASS MoCA was established by the generous support of the Clark, Williams College Museum of Art, and MASS MoCA. Additional funding was provided in part by gifts and grants from the Brownrigg Charitable Trust and Alice Shaver Foundation in memory of Lynn Laitman, Massachusetts Cultural Council (a state agency), and the National Endowment for the Arts (a federal agency).