KALAMAZOO, MICH.- The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
announced the opening of the revitalized Upjohn Mason Grandchildren Gallery after a comprehensive redesign. The gallery was unveiled August 25 as part of the KIA's Back to School Block Party. Located on the museum's lower level, the space is filled with hands-on opportunities for children two and older visiting with their parents.
"So often, we have to say 'please don't touch' at the museum," says Candie Waterloo, Assistant Curator of Youth and Family Programs, and lead designer of the gallery. "But here, we invite children and families to enjoy a larger-than-life drawing wall, a glow-in-the-dark nook, and lots more. I think we've created something to entice imaginations of all ages."
The gallery originated in 1994, with funds donated by Betty Upjohn Mason in honor of her grandchildren.
"Betty has been a visionary leader when it comes to the Kalamazoo community," says KIA Executive Director Belinda Tate. "Her support has allowed us to create an evolving fun space for children and families, exemplifying Betty's commitment to both the KIA and youth education. "
The activities will change quarterly, reflecting changes in the seasons or in the exhibitions on view in the museum.
"It's our hope that families will be sparked by something they see or do in the interactive gallery and then explore the rest of the museum's galleries, since our exhibitions change out every few months," says Waterloo. "Those who have visited before will see that everything's new and everything's different--from custom-designed furnishings and fabrics to lighting to colors that are gender neutral, contemporary and bright, to appeal to all ages.
"Throughout the museum, we work to offer spaces for visitors to learn, investigate, hang out and reflect in a creative, inspiring environment," says Tate. "When it comes to our youngest learners, we consider ourselves an invaluable education partner for parents in the area.
In addition to fresh paint, new furnishings, and the latest art-related books are stations for tactile creativity, including a magnetic wall, blacklight station, art robot, pegboard wall, reading nook, draw-it-yourself station, and dry erase marker wall.