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Art & Wonder: Young Children and Contemporary Art

  • What potential might there be for creative reciprocity between artists and young children?
  • Can we create space for intellectually rich, thoughtful, deep and complex early childhood visual arts pedagogy for the very youngest children in Early Childhood Education and Care settings and museum and gallery contexts?
  • In what ways can a sense of belonging be created for infants and toddlers (and their families) in large, public cultural institutions?
  • How do young children bring meaning to and make meaning from contemporary art within a museum context?

Art-&-Wonder-2-1440These questions and more form the foundations for the publication which shares findings from the pilot phase (September 2017 – March 2018) of the five-year Art & Wonder research project.

Since the collaborative research and pedagogy project began in September 2017, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) has been working with very young children (aged from babies under one, to children five years of age), and their families and early childhood teachers and educators. Through a series of regular workshops with MCA artist educators, the Art & Wonder program supports meaningful engagement with MCA exhibitions, practising artists and the MCA’s National Centre for Creative Learning (NCCL) featuring the Creative Studios and interactive Jackson Bella Room. This long-term study also informs the MCA’s creative learning programs for early childhood education and care groups.

Key findings of particular interest in the pilot research project are centred around five themes:

  • Belonging: active welcoming and permissions, creating the comfort zone, visibility and movement
  • Cultural citizenship: young children’s visibility in a public cultural institution, their participation rights as cultural citizens
  • Embodied aesthetic encounters: complex aesthetic experience and response, the connections between creativity and play
  • Reciprocity and relationships: establishing reciprocal relationships with artists and educators; materials and artworks, intergenerational experience within families
  • Reframing creative learning – the ways physical and metaphorical open spaces can be created in a contemporary art museum, within which very young children’s embodied responding to complex aesthetic experiences can take flight in generative, rich and unexpected ways

Art-&-Wonder-1440MCA Director, Elizabeth Ann Macgregor OBE, celebrates the launch of the publication, saying, “At the MCA we have always believed that very young children can benefit from access to creativity at such a critical time in their lives and this research program provides the evidence.  We are committed to our ongoing collaboration with colleagues from the Early Childhood sector and are thrilled to welcome thousands of children, their teachers and families to the Museum, each year. I would like to thank Suzanne and Anthony Maple-Brown, Patrons of Art & Wonder: Young Children and Contemporary Art, and The Medich Foundation, Major Benefactor of MCA Early Learning programs for their support.”


Art-and-Wonder-Book-coverArt & Wonder: Young Children and Contemporary Art written by Dr. Clare  Britt & Amanda Palmer

The Art & Wonder: Young Children and Contemporary Art publication is available from the MCA Store. RRP $54.95

Learn more about the Art & Wonder: Young Children and Contemporary Art research project.

This publication is based on the initial findings of a collaborative study between the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) and Macquarie University, working with children, families and teachers from Mia Mia Child and Family Study Centre, and Blacktown City Council

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editor@childmags.com.au