The Mattress Factory is always interested in engaging new audiences and thinking about creative ways for our visitors to engage deeply with our collection and the idea of space. We are also interested in thinking about technology and using it as a tool to challenge visitors to think and experience our space in new ways. This has led to a new project that is made possible by an IMLS (Institute of Museum and Library Services) Sparks! Ignition grant. The first phase of the project is research and content development for an iPad application called You Are The Artist! for children ages three to six years old.
The app will encourage young people to “think like an artist.” The app we will build is not going to be a tool to quiet and entertain students. Instead it will require engagement between the child and parents, grandparents or siblings. The app will also ask the child to look more closely at the world around them and begin to understand how different spaces make them feel and how they can impact the space around them in the world.
We have just begun our research and are very excited about the enthusiasm and response we have received from our community. Many families have graciously donated their time to come and visit the museum and speak with our Museum Educators about that experience. We also hosted an Educator Evening where we invited Pre-K and Kindergarten teachers to tour the galleries and give us feedback about how they think their students would respond to our permanent installations.
We hope to learn more about the questions that parents, students and teachers have for each other while experiencing the Mattress Factory installations. We are gaining a fuller understanding of the learning that takes place in the galleries and how we can deepen that conversation through an iPad app.
The Education Team also hopes to use this valuable research and create other programs and materials for this age group. Experiencing the Mattress Factory at such a young age is an incredible experience and we hope to have more programming focused for 3-6 year olds soon.
In the meantime, if you are interested in helping us with our study, have been to the Mattress Factory and have young children, please take a moment to fill out a brief questionnaire.
--Felice Q. Cleveland, Director of Education