CASE STUDY // Children’s Museum of the Arts

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Website: www.cmany.org

Address: 103 Charlton St, New York, NY 10013

Organization: Board of Directors: William Floyd (President)

Institution type: Non-Profit Children’s Museum

Target Audience: children, teens and parents from all socio-economic backgrounds

Contacts: Rachel Rapoport (Director of Community Programs)

Jil Weinstock (Director of Fine Arts and Curatorial Programming)

Mission: The mission of the Children’s Museum of the Arts is to extend the benefits of the arts to all children and their communities and to secure the future of the arts by inspiring and championing the next generation of artists and art lovers. We work to fulfill our mission by providing authentic hands-on art experiences for children with artists, both in our art-filled interactive museum, in the community, and by collecting and exhibiting children’s art. We are committed to celebrating the artist in every child and promoting access to the arts for all children regardless of ability or socioeconomic status because we believe the arts are critical to child and youth development and to strong and vibrant communities.

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Brief History of the Children’s Museum of the Arts: Founded in October 1988 by Kathleen Schneider, the museum has been located in the Manhattan neighborhood of SoHo since its inception. As CMA’s audience grew in size, its young artists grew as well, eventually outgrowing the facility on Lafayette Street. CMA needed a larger space to expand its’ programming, reaching more communities and kids up to age 15. In 2010, CMA broke ground on a former loading dock west of SoHo, working with architects and developers to create a state-of-the art facility that would benefit a range of ages and abilities. Children’s Museum of the Arts opened the doors to its new 10,000sq ft. home on Charlton Street in 2011. Since then, CMA has served hundreds of thousands of children and families, 27% free of charge.

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General Information from Tour:

  • The Children’s Museum of the Arts moved to its new Charlton St location in 2011 after 20 years in a small Chinatown location.
  • The new 10,000 sq ft space was designed by Work AC as a place of “production as well as presentation of the art” in what used to be an old loading dock, and its organizational strategy was that of a “colorful spatial transition between the ‘white boxes’ and of the gallery and classrooms.”

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  • The project was done in 18 months and there was not a lot of opportunity to communicate with the staff and architects; this communication gap is apparent in many ways throughout the building such as storage shortage, no space to setup exhibits, acoustic problems, etc.
  • The institution has 48 teaching artists that work in the museum or in the 19 partnerships the institution currently has with public schools throughout the city.
  •  The Children’s Museum of the Arts is the only children’s museum that exhibits artwork from children from all over the world and one out of five children’s museum of the arts in New York.
  • The main programs in the museum are: media, fine arts, modeling, and gallery (visit clips.cmany.org to view children’s animations).
  • The exhibits are made to engage and inspire the children in their art making process.

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  • With the new location, the museum included a larger audience of ages 12 to 15 that they did not have before as well as new programs such as the Clay Bar, the media lab and the quiet room.
  • The new location also increased their public by almost triple what it used to be from 50,000 to more than 120,000 people annually.

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  • The institution wants to grow and serve more neighborhoods not expand in size. They are looking into how to expand more digitally and get out to the public even more.
  • The board of directors consists of involved parents whose children have grown simultaneously with the institution and have reflected their children’s new interests in the new location.
  • The museum itself does not cover the expenses, birthday parties, private parties, and classes that bring most of the revenue.
  • Since birthday parties and events are the main source of revenue, the museum staff believes that more spaces for these activities would be beneficial for the institution.
  • The institution also aims to bring families together by adults being able to work together with children and make tighter family bonds. This is in part the reason why adults also pay the $11 admission fee.
  • The institution has had to balance between the formal museum program and the educational program both in the museum and in school throughout the city’s neighborhoods.

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  • The institution is really focused on giving every child an opportunity to create art without having to worry about economic issues. Some ways in which they provide children these opportunities are:
    • Y.A.K. (Young Artist Kollective): a free program for 6-9th graders in which they produce art in the museum’s classrooms after school hours.
    • Pay as You Wish Wednesdays: visitors pay as much as they want to visit the museum and produce art.
    • Partnerships with Schools: teaching artists go to schools and tailor art making lessons to meet classrooms specific needs and engage children in arts. The program can last from one month to a semester to an entire academic year.

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