What can be more important than getting more people to appreciate art? It is even better when you can get young people to enjoy museums and art spaces. Many museums offer activities for KIDS that we explore with Esther Jun and her family, but what about teenagers and young adults? Those, who are choosing their profession, getting to know the world from a philosophical standpoint and are looking for answers that sometimes can be found only when studying art.

We explored 3 programs for young people in 3 great museums: the National Portrait Gallery, Tate and the Met.

National Portrait Gallery

London’s The National Portrait Gallery became the very first gallery housing a collection of portraits of historically important and famous people. It was opened in 1856 and since then has become one of London’s must-sees.

In 2006 The National Portrait Gallery launched Young People’s Program aimed at 14-21 year-olds. It features a range of cross-arts media – dance, drama, spoken word, photography and film – including Sunday Sessions, three-day projects with a public showcase over School holidays, Pick up a Pencil drop-in drawing sessions, and other initiatives such as ‘takeover’ events, youth-led digital content and funded projects (Young People’s Guide to Self-Portraiture for the Van Dyck regional tour, BP Portrait Award: Next Generation), summer art events, after-hours events and so much more.

“Youth Forum is a steering panel of around twenty-five young people who help the Gallery to be more youth-friendly by developing, delivering and consulting on programs, initiatives and activities for other 14-21 year-olds at the Gallery. Youth Forum self-select to join, and we are in the process of recruiting a new intake to join the existing members. We pay their travel and provide refreshments. Members of Youth Forum benefit from meeting other young people interested in art and culture, and develop new practical and career-based skills. Youth Forum meet, and increasingly work with, staff across the Gallery including the Director and staff from our Marketing, Learning, Curatorial, Retail, Visitor Services and Exhibitions departments. As well has working to develop or feed back on events for their peers, Youth Forum have also worked with staff at the Gallery to consult on exhibition content or project outlines.”

The Gallery unites art-enthusiasts building a whole new generation of art and museum lovers.

“The Gallery developed the program with the intention of creating more youth-led activity for young people, and to make the Gallery more youth-friendly, and having a Youth Forum was always an integral part of the program, so any offer could be developed by young people for their peers.”

Another great project that helps young people to fall in love with art and feel at home in a museum is “Pick up a Pencil”.

“Pick up a Pencil drop-in drawing for 14-21s is hosted and run by Youth Forum, working with a different theme and guest artist each time. It is a free social opportunity for young people to draw in the Gallery spaces, working with an artist and with all materials & expertise provided. Youth Forum work closely with the guest artist to develop ideas and activities for the session at a prior Youth Forum meeting, then host and help support the event on the day.”

Tate – one of top 5 most visited UK museums – continues to expand due to heightened interest among all age groups, but it is particularly heartwarming to see many young people walking around Tate Britain or Tate Modern, telling each other stories about paintings and sharing experiences with their parents and friends. Being “hype” Tate is attracting teenagers and making them fall in love with art! Tate program for young people – Tate collectives features performances, events, workshops, exhibitions curated by the young people, and so much more.

Courtesy: TATE
Courtesy: TATE

Anyone, who is 15-21 can work alongside artists, arts professionals and other young people to create artworks, workshops, events, exhibitions and interventions and gain creative and gallery skills. Tate Britain gives a chance to be a part of specially curated late openings featuring music, live performances and workshops inspired by key works in the Tate Collection. It’s free to get in and you will immerse yourself into the great atmosphere with relaxed sound and visuals, hands-on making activities and intriguing discussion all curated exclusively by 15−25 year-olds. Next “Late Night at Tate” will take place December 2.

By listening to the ideas of the young people and responding to their suggestions Tate Liverpool developed a project that is not only playful and fun, but that offers open-ended explorations of materials and processes that explore the theme of transformations, identity and free play.

All sessions for young people are free to join and no previous art experience is needed. Tate offers an online platform for young people to showcase their art and ideas. Anyone 15-21 can create a portfolio and share their work on Tate site. It is a great opportunity for the artists, who are looking for support or guidance. And those young people, who are interested in working for a museum can find tons of useful information from career advice and training opportunities, to insights and tips from Tate staff about a range of museum jobs – from art handling to graphic design and interviews with artists.

Every 6 months teens take The Met! For 3 hours the museum is given exclusively to young people 13-18 years of age. Activities take place across the whole 5th Avenue building that measures almost 1⁄4 mile (400 m) long and with more than 2,000,000 square feet (190,000 m2) of floor space. The Met houses the biggest art collection in the United States, its permanent collection contains over two million works. And when teens take The Met all over the museum you can see various events including art-making, performances, gallery activities for teens by teens, music, dancing, and more. But this event is not all fun and games (although mostly that), those, who are interested in career in art can discover opportunities to volunteer and become interns at over forty NYC cultural and community organizations.

But even if you do not visit The Met on the day of the event, students with valid high school ID can enjoy many advantages – from free guided tours to free audio guides. But most importantly all teenagers can become a part of the Metropolitan Museum’s Teen family. All teenagers can join gallery conversations, studio workshops, sketching sessions, and special events, all led by artists and Museum staff. And NYC high school students can apply for a paid internship at the Met.

And all teenagers around the world can read and participate in discussions in the Metropolitan Museum's Teen Advisory Group blog – a place for teens to talk about art at the Museum and related topics.

Museums all over the world are open to young people; museums can build communities and make anyone fall in love with art if they are given that chance. Let’s hope that more museums offer exciting, fun and engaging activities for young people, so our family of museums lovers will grow!

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