Education Is Expanding at the Museums

Our education programs are reaching a larger and more diverse group of learners than ever before, both locally and internationally  through our Digital Stories. We are reaching all age groups: in addition to our new Toddler Tours, we are about to inaugurate a new gallery that takes advantage of children’s natural curiosity to engage their brains using art. For teens, we encourage activism through our annual Teens Take Action event and related programming throughout the year. And for visitors of all ages, our public programs have a new mission: of course we strive to provide information and provoke thought, but we also want to encourage debate and invite dialogue from a multitude of viewpoints.

Our May 12 forum Reckoning with the Past examines the multivalent issues of museum display practices and gender equality. Look for an exciting series of online and offline programs that examine the many social,cultural, and political issues raised by our upcoming Contemporary Muslim Fashions exhibition. You can also bring the Museums to work with you! Arrange for one of our fast and fun Art Talks at your workplace. See more information on all of these programs.


education initiatives at the de young museum

An Innovative New Gallery Fosters Curiosity

To solve the complex issues our children will face as adults, we must equip them to both question and to wonder. Children  are born with an innate desire to learn about the world around them. Unfortunately, as many children reach school age, their natural curiosity often fades. Museums—as carefully constructed environments that fundamentally ask questions and explore connections—are well suited to encourage curiosity. The de Young is making a major investment in our youth by building a new space that will purposefully cultivate childhood wonder. This summer the Museums unveil an innovative new play space in the Kimball Education Gallery, located in the free zone of the museum and open to all families.

The space is designed to strengthen several key core cognitive skills such as perception, inquiry, making connections, and divergent thinking. Research over the past decade has highlighted how exercising core cognitive skills increases plasticity of the brain. Similar to the muscles in our bodies, the growth of these skills requires practice and attention. This gallery will provide opportunities for such exercise through immersive environments that encourage sustained play and that meet children’s needs for multisensory exploration.

Studies on cultivating children’s curiosity highlight the key role adults serve as guides. Meaningful questioning by adults is a crucial factor to fostering a child’s inquisitiveness. Our new space will differ from most children’s galleries by helping adults understand their role and by providing them with simple tools that will help them create situations for children to practice and refine their instinctive curiosity. With strategies in hand, parents and caregivers can guide their children’s explorations of the Museums’ art collections and the world at large.

education initiatives at the de young museum
Courtesy of fuseproject

The redesign of the Kimball Education Gallery represents a new chapter for our well-established family programs. What began as an art school in the 1960s—and morphed into a “trip-out art truck” in the 1970s—is now a series of popular summer camps and Saturday drop-in art-making sessions. In 2016 the Museums took a bold new step of making general admission free for children and teens through age 17.

Today we are extending our outreach to underserved families through partnerships with local schools and libraries. We are excited to add this new education gallery to our free offerings for Bay Area families. The new gallery stands as a testament to the central importance of family audiences in the future of the Museums, and it is a cutting-edge effort to prepare children to meet the challenges of tomorrow. We are fortunate to partner with one of the area’s most innovative design thinkers, Yves Béhar, and his team at fuseproject to bring our vision to physical form. Please pardon our construction while you anticipate the opening of our new gallery later this year!

I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.