Art museums everywhere are searching for and trying to appeal to younger audiences, but the Toledo Museum of Art may just have everyone beat. It’s offering “baby tours” designed for parents or caregivers with infants up to 18 months old — one baby per adult please. And no strollers.
Now, many art museums have family programs, but this is the first time I’ve seen one offer an initiative like this. (Do let me know if I’m wrong.)
I learned of these baby tours in the TMA’s ARTMATTERS May-August magazine and they seem noteworthy.
The article about them cites the TMA’s director of education, Dr. Kathy Danko-McGhee, a former professor of early childhood art education, as someone who has studied how babies respond to art. Noting that the visual system of humans develops during the earliest days of our lives, it says newborns as young as nine minutes old prefer to look at photographs and pictures resembling the human face; that newborns can see color; that a one-month-old can distinguish between red and green, and that at 12 weeks old, infants prefer colors over white.
So the TMA is offering baby tours of its Jules Olitsky exhibition (his Purple Golubchik, right), on five Friday afternoons at 3:30 p.m. The Pitch: “Watch your baby respond to large colorful paintings and learn ways to facilitate early visual literacy skills.”
Looking at art “promotes early neuron connections in the brain. And for the verbal toddler, interacting with an adult in naming images and describing different characteristics in a work of art lays the groundwork for visual, cognitive and language development,” the TMA says.
Surprisingly, the magazine invites people to learn more by calling Danko-McGhee and printing her phone number.
Kudos to the TMA.
Photo Credits: Courtesy of the Toledo Museum of Art