Tablet Life & Arts

The Renzo Piano Pavilion’s educational mission

When Kimbell Art Museum officials were planning their new building, exhibition space was their primary need. Second on the list of must-haves was a location for the education department and classrooms.

“Since 1972, we’ve had to make do,” says Kimbell Director Eric Lee. “We’ve set up under the portico or in the lobby. Developing classrooms and studios was a major reason this building was built. Well, that and to keep the permanent collection up, but it was also critical to get education classrooms and not have to make-do in other spaces.”

The education department had no physical location. There were no offices or classrooms, just “a narrow cubbyhole shoebox with things stuffed in there including a couple of interns,” says Nancy Edwards, the Kimbell’s curator of European art and head of academic services.

The programs had to be scheduled around events and tours. Space to hold the meetings and art-making projects were grabbed from the cafe, under the portico, in the lobby or outside in the garden areas.

That is no longer the case. In the new Piano Pavilion building, the Kimbell has a four-classroom education wing. With space for messy art-making projects and rooms for meetings with video projection capabilities. They will add these to the two auditoriums, and all the outdoor areas that have been off limits for three years during construction. Finally the education department has an expansive home.

“The new space allows us to do ambitious programs for toddlers to adults. We’ll be able to offer more drop-in programs and take advantage of the weekends with the new studios,” says Edwards.

Some of the first events will be an introduction to the new museum, including a family festival that will highlight activities and programs as well as introduce the latest calendar of offerings.

Programs that will be able to expand include Pictures and Pages, a toddlers’ program, the adults’ workshop, which is held on Wednesdays, a book club called Artful Readings, and the access programs such as Viewpoints, which is tailored to people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.

More space for family programs will exist, too; these will roll out next year, particularly in the summer, Edwards says.

“Family experiences are really cherished. Our research has shown that kids who come with their families are future museum goers,” she says. “So we have made it easier for families, with family restrooms, changing stations and activities for young children with short attention spans.

“We have lots of ideas and an increased staff that will allow us to serve the community. We have such a great institution and collection, we want a broad spectrum of people to feel welcome and enjoy it. We are looking for different way to do that beyond lectures and seminars, but with social experiences that allow people to engage in their own ways.”

Upcoming programs

at the Kimbell

Kimbell Kids drop-in studio: This free program introduces children ages 12 and younger accompanied by an adult to fun and inspiring ways to enjoy art together. Each session features a brief gallery activity and a related studio art project. There is no advance registration for this although space is limited. Sign up at the entrance to the education studios in the Renzo Piano Pavilion, beginning one hour before the program. 1 - 1:45 p.m. Satudays. “Think Like an Architect,” Dec. 7, 21 and 28; “Landscape Landmarks” Jan. 4, 18, 25; Feb. 1 and 8.

Studio Five 90: Art-making projects and varied gallery activities encourage a fresh way of looking at and responding to artworks and themes. There is no advance registration for this free, drop-in program, although space is limited to 25 teen and adult participants. Sign up at the entrance to the education studios in the Renzo Piano Pavilion, beginning one hour before the program. “The Architects Sketchbook,” 5 - 6:30 p.m., Dec. 6 and 20. “Riotous Color” 5 - 6:30 p.m., Jan. 3 and 17. “Drawn to Sculpture,” 5 - 6:30 p.m., Feb. 7 and 21.

Children’s Workshop: “Shapes of All Sizes,” ages 6 to 12. Check out the endless possibilities for different shapes in art. Find out which modern artist loved to organize squares of color, and learn about another painter who invented his own eye-catching shapes. Participants will experiment with color, line, and shape to design collage compositions. Offered in conjunction with the exhibition “The Age of Picasso and Matisse: Modern Masters from the Art Institute of Chicago.” Limit of three children per adult; no charge for adult partners, $15 per child ($12 for Kimbell members). To register, call 817-332-8451, ext. 351. Dec.14, 10 a.m. till noon.

Family Celebration: All-day open-house showcasing the new education studios. Creative art-making activities, guided gallery explorations, self-guided architecture tours, demonstrations by artists, and live musical performances. Free, no registration is needed. Jan. 11 and 12.

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