The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco Partner with Yves Béhar’s fuseproject and Tellart to Premiere de Youngsters Studio, a New Interactive Children’s Gallery at the de Young Museum

de Youngsters Studio

de Youngsters Studio rendering

de Young | Opening December 1, 2018 

SAN FRANCISCO - The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF) are thrilled to announce the de Youngsters Studio—a pioneering hands-on, interactive, free play space dedicated to engaging children’s curiosity through state-of-the-art design and technology. The Studio was designed by Yves Béhar’s fuseproject and realized by Tellart, both award-winning design firms. It will feature five immersive activity stations that delve into fundamental art concepts: color, composition, shape and form, texture, and sculpture. In doing so, the space will provide tools for understanding the unique role that visual arts play in fostering children’s innate curiosity and, using examples from the collections of the de Young museum, will demonstrate methods to engage with art.  

"The de Youngsters Studio provides an opportunity for our youngest visitors to understand the components of art and to draw new connections in engaging with works in our collection,” says Sheila Pressley, Director of Education at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. “Building on FAMSF’s history of award-winning programming for children, families, and teachers, this space allows us to reach the next generation of art lovers and museum enthusiasts.”

The design of the space leverages new technologies to prompt exploration, curiosity, and discovery. In accordance with the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the technological components are carefully designed to create open-ended outcomes that are augmented when used with the help of an adult. Each of the areas incorporates these technologies differently; for example, while one employs touch sensors that allow for color mixing on a wall-like surface, another uses cameras that let children virtually place their creations within the galleries of the museum.

Located in an area of the de Young museum that is free and open to the public, the Studio is open to children of all ages, with activities specifically created for ages 3–8 to explore together with an accompanying adult. The space will be open during normal museum hours. General admission to the de Young and Legion of Honor museums is always free for those 17 and under.

"I am excited about the de Young’s vision to create a permanent space for children to get directly and physically involved with creative concepts," said Yves Béhar, founder and chief designer of fuseproject. "We designed the de Youngsters Studio as an evolving space that integrates the environment and the arts contained within the museum. The result is an environment that is both permanent within the prestigious Herzog and de Meuron building, and also brings constant change by integrating new museum content. The central structure is made of five cubes opened and permeable in difference ways to allow discovery and physical interactions. Each cube houses a unique creative challenge, from experimenting with color, texture and sculpture. We designed unique digital experiences that involve the kids physically: with their hands, body and mind they explore their own creative practice and understanding. To me this represents the possibilities of physical and digital learning at the service of future artists and designers.”

The de Youngsters Studio will open with a day of programming on Saturday, December 1, 2018. More details on our programming for all ages can be found here.

In Detail

The de Youngsters Studio will utilize leading design thinking and technologies to provide children with rich learning opportunities through authentic, hands-on exploration. Each of the five modules in the Studio will explore a different visual concept:


Through the use of sensor technology, children will explore how to blend primary colors to create other colors. The combinations are endless as children mix and drag digital pigments with their fingers across a curved screen centered in the middle of the first module. 


Working on a light table, children will experiment with use of space (or composition) in their work by designing a piece of art, using shapes inspired by the collections of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Once complete, the compositions will be projected on the walls of the Studio using overhead projectors, increasing a child’s ability to reflect and practice.  

Shape and Form

In the shape-and-form activity, children will work together to discover the many kinds of shapes that can be made with the human body. Through live cameras, movement will be captured on a double-activated surface to create intersecting silhouettes that, when overlapped, reveal details from recognizable objects in FAMSF collections.


Another integral component of any artwork is texture. In this activity, children will learn how texture translates visually through interactive screens that mimic physical, textured tiles found in FAMSF collections. Kids will create their own combinations on large touchscreens, developing a new descriptive vocabulary to make the connection between how something feels and its graphic representation.


The young sculptors working in the de Youngsters Studio will build their own sculptures using custom-designed magnetized blocks. After carefully considering how their form will look from all sides, they will have a chance to virtually place their newly created sculptures in some of the best-loved locations at the de Young, including directly in a gallery! Using an augmented-reality platform, they can further explore size, orientation, and location when placing their artwork in the context of the museum.

Why curiosity?

The de Youngsters Studio is founded on the principle that curiosity is innate. According to a 2007 study by Chouinard, Harris, and Marastos, toddlers and preschoolers ask an average of 76 questions per hour, as their natural curiosity to understand the world coincides with their blooming language capacity. Developmental scientists, educators, and policy makers agree that maintaining and developing children’s innate inquisitiveness is critical to school readiness and beyond. Positive early-learning experiences carry a predictive power that extends beyond elementary school, wiring children’s brains for conceptual thinking and sustained interest. As many children reach school age, formal expectations and social pressures challenge their intrinsic motivation to learn, and as a result, their natural curiosity can diminish. Dr. Susan Engel, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, and Director of Program in Teaching, Williams College, has shown that although kindergartners typically demonstrate two to five instances of curiosity in a two-hour period in class (e.g., asking questions, looking closely at something, tinkering), fifth graders regularly demonstrate no instances of curiosity in class. As Engel describes, “Kids learn best when they’re trying to get the answer to their own question. Curiosity is the engine that fuels learning.” A child’s environment—both the social environment and the experience—matters significantly in whether curiosity remains robust as a child grows. Of particular importance is the active role adults play in encouraging and promoting curiosity in children.

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Visiting \ de Young
Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, San Francisco. Open 9:30 am–5:15 pm Tuesdays–Sundays. Open select holidays; closed most Mondays. 

Admission to the deYoungsters Studio is free of charge.

Credit line
Presenting Sponsor: Koret Foundation. Major Support: Alaska Airlines, Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne, The Art Party, The Harris Family, and Diane B. Wilsey. Significant Support: Adobe and The William G. Irwin Charity Foundation. Generous Support: Bothin Foundation and the William and Gretchen Kimball Fund. Additional support is provided by Daphne and Stuart Wells, Thomas and Shelagh Rohlen, and family and friends in memory of Florence Wong. Creative Partner: fuseproject / Yves Behar. Design Build Partner: Tellart. Additional in-kind support is provided by Kvadrat and Samsung.   

About the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, comprising the de Young in Golden Gate Park and the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park, are the largest public arts institution in San Francisco.

The de Young originated from the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition in Golden Gate Park and was established as the Memorial Museum in 1895. It was later renamed in honor of Michael H. de Young, who spearheaded its creation. The present copper-clad landmark building, designed by Herzog & de Meuron, opened in October 2005. It holds the institution’s significant collections of American painting, sculpture, and decorative arts from the 17th to the 21st centuries; art from Africa, Oceania, and the Americas; costume and textile arts; and international modern and contemporary art.

Media Contact:
Miriam Newcomer
Director of Communications