March 22-25, 2006
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Demonstrations: Description

smARTkids (Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago)

Melissa Holbert, The Smart Museum of Art, USA

In November 2002, the Smart Museum of Art launched the website, smARTkids. Geared for ages 7-12, the site fosters interactive learning through ways of looking at, thinking and writing about art in the Smart Museum's collection. Children and adults can explore four interrelated sections of the website — Look and Share, ArtSpeak, Art Detective, and Artist Studio —to learn about the language, materials and processes, and social and historical context of art and artists. The site was designed by Peel Interactive Media (Seattle) in collaboration with the Smart Museum Education Department. During content development, the Education Department also consulted an advisory group of teachers.

The website is accessible to the general public, featured prominently in the main navigation bar on the museum's main site ( . Since it was launched, smARTkids is consistently the most frequently visited page on the museum's website, besides the Smart's homepage. It is also the first site to appear when doing a basic Google search for the term "smart kids," and many sites around the world now host links to the site.

SmARTkids is also an integral component of the curriculum for the multi-visit third and fourth grade program Art In Focus, one of the Smart Museum's core education programs. Teachers use smARTkids as a teaching tool in the classroom, both to introduce and reinforce concepts discussed during docent-led museum visits. Classes involved with the Smart's fifth grade program, smART Explorers, also now use the "ArtSpeak" and "Art Detective" sections of smARTkids in the classroom.

SmARTkids has also become a crucial tool in connecting with families from our neighboring communities. Activities from the website are part of a new monthly off-site family program at a local library branch. Also, the smARTkids logo and color scheme are being integrated into an expanded graphic identity for family-oriented gallery materials. This will further connect our digital and in-house resources, providing consistent, familiar and inviting visual environments for our visitors.

Over the next several months, the Education department will work with consultants to produce smARTkids.v2, an expanded and fine-tuned version of smARTkids. Preliminary plans include the addition of an interactive virtual classroom environment, increased zooming capability, expanded "Artist Studio" and Teachers' sections, and integration with the museum's new online collections database. The demonstration at Museums and the Web will offer museum peers and those in the technology field an opportunity to discuss with the Smart Museum how the site has been used and integrated into the museums education activities. At the same time, during the session, the Smart's staff will seek valuable input at this crucial early stage of the planning process for smARTkids.v2.

Demonstration: Demonstrations [Close-Up]

Keywords: art, interactive, children, families, teachers, education, feedback