Project gives kids new view of London art

Paul Mayne//Western NewsInformation & Media Studies professor Juan Bello looks to introduce technology-hungry elementary students to some of Museum London’s most iconic masterpieces through a variety of digital storytelling opportunities. Bello will lead Discover London Art, an initiative that gives students the opportunity to learn about some of London’s (and Canada’s) top artists.

Juan Bello is counting on the natural curiosity of kids, combined with their love of the latest tech, to spark an excitement for art inside of them.

Led by Bello, Discover London Art is one of two recently funded projects through the Museum London Idea Incubator-Digital Solutions for Arts Education and Engagement program. His initiative received $30,000 to provide school-age children with an interactive variety of digital stories and content to introduce them to Museum London’s permanent collection.

“It’s a project about storytelling – the stories behind the artwork. It’s about getting them exposed to these works,” said the Faculty of Information & Media Studies professor. “These pieces have intrinsic value kids, at any age, can interact with. It can be a challenge, but it can also be a great opportunity.”

One such piece Bello plans to introduce to Grades 4-6 students will be Car, by prominent Canadian and London-born artist Greg Curnoe, a leader of the London Regionalism movement.

“It has been capturing the attention of kids visiting the museum for decades. It’s an icon in the museum collection,” Bello said. “We are going to be put together a digital story with this and tell the students why and how it was produced, tell them the story of the artist. We want to go beyond the painting.”

Museum London / Special to Western NewsCar (1967) by London artist Greg Curnoe.

Through videos, e-messaging and interactive activities, students can unlock further content about the various pieces of art – making it “an opportunity to explore,” Bello continued. Students will learn about the processes involved in the production of a work of art, as well as about the multiple connections between art and history.

For many children, this project will be their first encounter with some of the city’s most significant art treasures. Three local schools will take in the initiative in May and June.

“This project is about going one step forward. It’s about developing interactive projects that will make use of technology – which is what kids are interested in – and enhance the museum experience,” Bello said. “It’s an opportunity for them to see things from different perspectives.”

The other funded project, The Museum London cARTography Project, led by Jill Bogart, highlights the connections between works of art in the museum’s collection and the time and place of their production. Western Library & Information Science (LIS) doctoral candidate Patrick Gavin and MLIS graduate and Collections and Content Strategies Librarian Sean McLaughlin will assist with the project.

Both Museum London projects are in collaboration with Nordicity and Lord Cultural Resources, with funding though the Canada Council for the Arts’ Digital Strategy Fund.