On Sunday 24th August we celebrated the launch of our kids audio guide for visitors to the Ngā Toi / Arts Te Papa exhibition. Children’s faces lit up with excitement when they heard their voices playing in the gallery. Visitors crowded around keen to hear and parents and teachers glowed with pride listening to their children’s creative responses. Head Curator Sarah Farrah summed up the success of the kids audio guide when she thanked the children for drawing attention to details in paintings, enabling visitors to view the works from a fresh perspective.
The 18 track audio guide available free to visitors on ipods in the exhibition on level 5 is the result of several months’ work. It all started when Crofton Downs Primary school came on a trip to Te Papa last year to take part in our Tell Me a Picture art education programme. The programme introduces students to a selection of art works in the national collection. Through a series of group activities students use their visual language, creative thinking and communication skills to create and share stories inspired by what they see in each art work. I was so impressed by their interpretations and imaginative stories that I invited the school to work in partnership with us to develop an audio guide for visitors to the exhibition.
The students visited the Ngā Toi art exhibition during our last season, then a couple of months ago I visited the school with one of our media producers and a sound technician. I showed a group of year 1 and 2 students (aged 5-7) some large colour reproductions of artworks from our collection that feature in the current season’s exhibition. I asked them questions about what they could see in the works and recorded their responses. They began by looking closely and describing various details such as colours, shapes symbols etc. Then I encouraged them to take imaginative leaps into the art works journeying through them and exploring them with all their senses. By using creative thinking to look beyond what they could see the children told surprising, insightful, amusing and personal stories inspired by the art works.
The children who participated in this project really enjoyed taking part, and when asked about the experience they commented; “It was like we were in the picture describing the place and seeing all the things in it” “The painting was in the olden days and it was like I was in the olden days” “It was fun I could jump into the picture and have a party at the house in the picture“. Following their involvement in this project the students and their teachers took over a vacant space in Johnsonville shopping mall for a week and transformed it into a gallery. The students wrote wall labels and created an audio guide telling stories about their work and held an opening event for their temporary exhibition.
Listen to an interview about the kids audio guide here, broadcast on Radio New Zealand National programme Standing Room Only August 31st.