A Field Trip to the Seattle Art Museum

Youth observe “Mann und Maus” on display at the Seattle Art Museum.

Club members were able to visit the Seattle Art Museum this summer. Stefano Perruccio, the Clubs’ Art Specialist was one of the chaperones for the trip. Stefano spends time at each of the Clubs coming up with thoughtful art projects for the youth to participate in and he was especially excited about this opportunity. “The museum trip offered an exposure to a variety of art within many cultures all over the world, from modern, to traditional, to indigenous all in one space. I enjoyed witnessing their engagement and energy,” he said. 

Tammy Findlay, Director of Marketing, was also able to make the trip and snap some photos. Of her experience on the trip, she said, “One of the first exhibits we viewed was a very large sculpture of an oversized black mouse sitting on top of a man lying in bed all in white. I asked one of the members if they had any thoughts on what it meant. They were confused by the question, but then had a very literal interpretation. ‘A big rat sat on him and he’s probably dead.’ I said I didn’t know what the sculpture meant, but that maybe the mouse represented something like anxiety. They said, ‘that’s weird!’ I continued asking members about details of various exhibits throughout, and soon members were coming up to me and sharing their interpretation of the art. I really enjoyed their thought process, and how they became more engaged when they realized that they were allowed to have an opinion about what they were viewing.” 

In addition to admiring the works of art, kids were challenged to remain quiet, not touch the work and adhere to boundaries set by the museum. A difficult feat, to say the least, but they all did a masterful job overall. Stefano remarked that he wished museums were more accessible to a younger audience, more interactive, and not so “buttoned-up”.  This might have been one of the reasons that they loved the Three Empathics virtual display, part of the African art collection. The dark room featured neon-projecting, changing images on the wall and on the floor while playing calming music. Some of the youth mimicked the poses of the 3 seemingly meditating or yogic figures and let the images display on them as they lay on the floor. 

Stefano followed up the experience with an art project. He explained, “After the trip, members created their own masks with paper mâché, exploring all the different styles of masks that we saw at the museum, Pacific Islander, Latin American, African American, and Native American. This brought the experience full-circle and provided hands-on learning that was more relatable for them, instead of the strictly academic viewpoint of the museum. This gave them the opportunity to be directly engaged, creating, instead of only viewing.”

Exposure to different types of artwork has shown to have an impact on kids learning and overall academic health. Visiting the museum, and providing Club kids with an “adult” perspective on art is just one more tool that helps the Clubs achieve one of their priority outcomes of Academic Success.