31 Aug 2014

Audio Guides for children at Te Papa

From Standing Room Only, 1:46 pm on 31 August 2014

Goblin Market
Goblin market, 1911, England, by Frank Craig. Purchased 1912 by public subscription. Te Papa (1912-0021-11).

Do children have a place in art galleries and museums and how much do they really understand about what is in front of them?

This was a question up for debate this month, sparked by comments from British artist—Jake Chapman who believes the presence of children in these spaces is disruptive and irrelevant, and that children simply don’t understand the work. But perhaps the bigger question should be—does it even matter how much we understand, when the beauty of art is that it is up for interpretation?

At Te Papa Museum in Wellington, the staff are more than supportive of the latter, and adhere to the belief that people of all ages and backgrounds can experience art in their own way. Te Papa have just launched a new programme of exhibitions called  Ngā Toi Arts Te Papa, which features work from international and local artists within the National Collection.

Helen Lloyd— Senior Education Programmer with a background in art, says that Te Papa look at different strategies to engage their youth audience which ranges between the ages of 5-18. With regards to Ngā Toi, Te Papa have been collaborating with children and teachers from Crofton Downs Primary School to develop a children’s audio guide which is available both online and via borrowed iPods available at the exhibition.

Lloyd hopes that the guides will be beneficial as a resource for schools and teachers to help children to create a dialogue about the artworks and the importance of developing stories through visual imagery.

Sonia Sly talks with Helen Lloyd about the project.