Museum of Brisbane

Children in Galleries and Museums

A discussion has been brewing in the art world this week about children going to Galleries and if it’s a “total waste of time”. The topic of children engaging with art and attending galleries and museums is not a new one; however the artist in the centre of the current argument has accused children of being “not yet human” and parents for being “arrogant” for thinking children can understand contemporary art. You can read the article here.

At Museum of Brisbane, we feel his statements are coarse, detrimental to the growth of the art world, and being said to drive media attention. This is what our Director Peter Denham had to say in response to Jake Chapman’s comments:

“Yes, Jake Chapman’s comments sell children short (and families who encourage greater cultural interaction). For instance, children quickly understand all things technological (way more than most adults!) and you need to start to grow appreciation and understanding at an early age.

“It is important for children to be exposed to new things, new ideas, things that aren’t spoon fed or straight forward – art is incredibly important in this sphere. Otherwise, children get fed a staple diet of bland, safe, commercial, stereotypical narratives and experiences that as adults will become habit forming. This causes them to never be exposed to new experiences, forever hemmed in by their massive TV screen and the multi-functional BBQ.

“I do hate the child prodigy painter stunts, children who paint ‘just like Picasso’ but that’s more the parents fault in these rare crass occasions. But I am also over artists positioning themselves, making themselves into L’Enfant terrible, it is also pretty tasteless and the Chapmans love playing in this space.

“Australian society generally traverses the arts in a periphery way – going to an arts/cultural event is seen as a ‘special’ trip out. We actually need to make arts/cultural activity part of the everyday and that is how we grow greater understanding and knowledge. Providing children with new cultural experiences is imperative in this journey.”