Playtime for Adults at the Museum
How do we evaluate the adult education programs we offer to our public at the Kimbell? Careful planning and reflection are essential—but a less-studied approach can be eye opening, too.
Enter a recent impromptu survey of “informal learning” programs for adults—otherwise known as Wednesday Workshop, Studio Five 90, and Artful Readings.
(It’s worth noting that these three programs represent only a sliver of the learning opportunities that the Museum regularly offers to adults. Auditorium lectures by local and nationally recognized scholars, gallery talks with professional artists, weekend films, and drop-in tours are among the many options for adults interested in learning about art-related topics.)
Our challenge was to put into words what defines these programs collectively and individually. Where are the sweet spots for adults looking for different ways to learn and interact at the Museum?
Just how “methodical” did we get? Not very, but our VIN diagrams did yield some useful findings. Here’s one example made up of fragments from conversations with program participants and staff members:
There were quite a few words (in no particular order) that popped up across the board:
And then some interesting points of emphasis:
Some of the programs—like Wednesday Workshop and Artful Readings—require advance registration and a fee; they also include refreshments. (One staff member wrote “wine!” for Artful Readings.)
Wednesday Workshop and Studio Five 90—a free, drop-in program—both emphasize art-making and individual creativity stimulated by artworks viewed in the galleries. Sessions explore themes or unique processes for creating art. Wednesday Workshop has a more structured format with extra time allotted for studio creations (sessions run about 2 1/2 hours). Studio Five 90, with new twists on gallery and studio activities, capitalizes on the unexpected. Its open format can be a welcome surprise for guests who just happen to wander into the studios.
So what do we get out of all of this (aside from learning that comparing VIN diagrams is fun)?
(1) People have their own ideas about how they want to enjoy their time at the Museum, and choices are a very good thing.
(2) The act of bringing together great artworks and people will yield an infinite supply of possibilities, insights, and some very important playtime for adults.