Art Museum Experiences in Early Childhood: A Review of the Literature

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This presentation reviews the scholarly literature of the last 25 years, on the aesthetic experiences of young children in an art museum setting. In order to make the task feasible the focus is on four-to-six year old children exclusively. Although the view of museum-based art experiences in early childhood is limited, an emerging landscape reveals that young children can become immersed in deep aesthetic encounters. This survey examines children's experiences of art in a museum setting from a physical, social and personal perspective by applying Falk and Dierking's Interactive Experience Model. Direct evidence, in the form of the recorded voices of children, contributes to an accurate understanding of these experiences. The author attempts to show how Buber's theory of an “I and thou” dialogue can inform curatorial and pedagogical practice. Art museum staff can use this theoretical approach to connect with their young audiences, so that art museums might more consistently enable important early aesthetic experiences.


Keywords: Art Museum, Early Childhood, Aesthetic Experience, Literature Review
Stream: Arts Policy, Management and Advocacy
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: The Young Child and the Masterpiece


Dr Lea Mai

PhD Candidate, Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW, Australia

Lea Mai is currently undertaking a PhD in art museum experiences in early childhood at the University of Sydney, Australia. She is interested in how capturing the voices of children conveys accuracy and authenticity to research practices. In her work she attempts to build a bridge between research and practice. Lea holds a BA (Hons) in Art History and an LLB from the Australian National University. She is a past intern of the Drill Hall Gallery, Canberra.

Asst. Prof Robyn Gibson

Senior lecturer, Faculty of Education & Social Work A35, The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW, Australia

Robyn Gibson is a Senior Lecturer in Visual and Creative Arts Education in the Faculty of Education & Social Work at the University of Sydney. For the past three years, she has been Associate Dean of Undergraduate and Preservice Programs within the Faculty. Her current research interests focus on art as research and research as art. She is particularly interested in utilising innovative methodological approaches including arts-informed inquiry.

Ref: A09P0163