I wanted to take a moment and discuss a topic that had become a point in several conversations I’ve had recently with several individuals-including parents, museum employees, & retail associates that I think deserves more attention, research, and resolution within the art, fashion, and education communities. I want to teach one day and I think this will be an important part of my curriculum no matter what the age group is. ( I also think that it could be a great topic to argue in an art education thesis- if anyone knows of something like this already, please direct me to it!)
I interned at an Art museum when I graduated undergrad in Florida as well as having worked in retail for several years where I have noticed a common theme amongst the young and older children that come to visit with their parents…The first reason I noticed the trend was because in the Art museum setting, we offered childrens’ art classes including sponsoring National Kids’ Turn Off Your TV week at Barnes & Nobles where we offer activities as well as walking through the museum. The question that haunts me still to this day is the surprising number of kids that attempt to actually touch a paint or sculpture…and especially wait till they are not being watched!!!
Now I know that there are a lot of different scenarios this may encompass but the fact is in my experience in a variety of settings- whether it be touching a painting, ripping a leather flower off of a high heeled pump, or running their fingers through the wires of a sculpture-like installation because they want to play it “like a harp” is astounding to me. And even more unsettling is more and more having to remind adults not to touch a delicate object/ art object on display.
It seems that many children simply do not follow their parents’ directions or the parents don’t even react to the child blatantly seeing the ” DO NOT TOUCH ” sign and reaching to feel the texture of the surface of a piece.
My question that still stands unanswered is even though I understand as the present pushes forward and many artists are beginning to encourage interaction with it’s viewer as well as museums offering exhibits that encourage using other senses as well as visual. This along with more art education being offered in these institutions, I believe that the line is becoming blurred between knowing when to respect an object in situ & when interaction is greeted.