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In January 2014, the Cummer began a new portfolio building class for middle school age students and older. Each year, starting the second week in June, the museum hosts Camp Cummer, a six-week elementary school age summer camp and a one week middle school camp.

Tere is no doubt that art helps a child

develop their critical thinking skills. In their galleries, the Cummer uses the Feldman Method of Art Criticism. “It is designed around a series of questions that we ask when we look at a painting,” says the museum’s Director of Education Lynn Norris. Tis method consists of five questions that utilize the critical thinking method which helps children put rational thoughts together and gives them a sense of empowerment that they have developed a thoughtful opinion. “Tese observational skills can carry over into their writing skills,” says Lynn.

Local mom Marisa Carbone took her

daughter to the Cummer for their children’s programs and to see a Native American exhibit. She agrees that exposing children to art is extremely beneficial. “Tey learn to see the world in different ways and I think this creates greater understanding and empathy.”

To get a child excited about visiting an

art museum, Lynn suggests parents start at home by giving their children books about art and allowing them to play with clay and water colors. Lynn also stresses the importance of making the visit a family- centered event. She says one of the most important things for parents to remember is not to be afraid to visit the museum. “Art museums are in the people business, we are in the community business as a partner with the community and helping children and families develop.”

In downtown Jacksonville, the Museum

of Contemporary Art Jacksonville (MOCA) offers Sunday ArtFusion for families every Sunday afternoon. Te class is free with

students. Allison says parents can ask the front desk if there are activities such as a scavenger hunt or additional information about the art. “You don’t have to have any background knowledge,” she says. “Te goal is getting people to analyze and have a conversation about the artwork.”

Each program at MOCA Jacksonville

has a different targeted goal. “What we try to do is create a great, unique experience for them. So with just a little bit of preparation ahead of time, a parent can walk in with some great activities for their kids to do,” says Allison.

MOCA’s Rainbow Artists program is MOCA Jacksonville, photo courtesy of Thomas Hager

admission to the museum. “Te mission of the program is to help promote interaction within a family unit around an art making activity and then we even send home extra lesson plans,” says the museum’s Director of Education Allison Galloway.

Sarah Peirpoint, a mom in the Jacksonville

area who brought her 4-year-old son to Sunday ArtFusion, says MOCA has great opportunities for children to not only be interactive and make art but to also walk through the galleries. “I don’t know how much time or attention he’ll give to [looking at the artwork in the galleries] but just being surrounded by it, seeing it, and having it be a part of his ‘normal’ is a great experience for him and that’s the way we want to bring him up.”

MOCA’s ArtExplorium Loft is a play

area for children and families with 16 interactive stations where children can express their creativity. Te museum does tours for elementary, middle and high schools on the First Coast in addition to adult group tours and tours for home-school

designed specifically for those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Trough art activities and exposure to the galleries, those with ASD have an outlet to express themselves through creativity. Te program Voice of the People allows visitors to listen to interpretations of pieces of artwork from fourth graders at S.P. Livingston Elementary School. Project Atrium is a program where contemporary artists create a specific art installation for the Haskell Atrium Gallery. Typically, those installations are interactive. “We’ve had everything in that space from wall paintings to larger interactive sculptures, to a video game installation,” says Allison. Trough these programs, children are able to develop and individualize creative expression. “It promotes all kinds of areas of the brain that facilitate inventiveness and creativity. It’s essential to problem solving, so there’s a lot of intangibles that come with art making that need to be developed to become a well- rounded human being.”

First Wednesday Art Walk, photo by Rob Futrell HERITAGE PUBLISHING, INC. © 2014

Photo courtesy of St. Augustine Art Association

Photo courtesy of St. Augustine Art Association Family! | 23

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