When faced with the challenge of exploring the galleries from a child’s perspective, our Apprentice Museum Educators, Evan G. and Tarona H., not only physically lowered themselves to the height of a preschooler, they also used a camera as a viewfinder to document their findings.
They both discovered that with this change in perspective they were focusing on different aspects of the artwork and understanding the potential difficulties faced by this younger group in the galleries.
From my experience, the largest thing I took away was the immediate change in visual impact from lowering my perspective. Even the staircase itself seemed much larger…I found myself face to face with a part of the image I would not have previously considered as a focal point. Now, when initially engaging a piece, I direct students to take a close look, but also to take a step back and view it from a larger distance, to better take in entire work. I have found this often helps shift the conversation away from smaller details and towards discussing the piece as a whole.
When looking at a piece at a third grader’s height, the piece becomes different. When a group is too close to a piece, it makes it very difficult to direct their attention. This experience has influenced me to change pieces that I would normally use. I have found that using a simple piece will create a rich experience for young children. Sitting down with the groups allows me to understand what they are trying to communicate and view the piece the way they would.