Thursday, 17 July 2014

Piloting Family Trails at Courtauld Gallery

The Courtauld Gallery is one of the finest small museums in the world. They hold a remarkable art collection, including famous Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces such as Manet's A Bar at the Folies-Bergere, Van gogh's self portrait and Gauguin's nevermore.
 A dear friend of mine was developing their pilot programme Family audience (their primary audience are usually secondary schools or older). With my experience from Museum of Childhood, where I deal with 800+ kids a day, I offered my expertise to creating and evaluating illustrated Family trails! While the whole project happened really fast (I was given the brief on Friday th July and the trail were given out to selected family audience on Sunday the 6th), It was such a priviledge to have the opportunity to work with one of my favorite collections in London. I mean, whats a better way to spend your weekend than drawing Manet's barmaid?!

To experiment with different responses for different levels, we created 3 different trails for the family groups to choose. My favorite one is based on the fact that Anthony Blunt, the gallery's previous director during 1947-1974, was a soviet spy. We created a spy/detective trail which were given in a top secret envelope, with maginfy glasses and make-your-own fake mustache!
Another trail we did was the Animal Safari, where each family got given a scroll with clues to find animals hidden in the galleries. They also got cat masks to wear as they search as well.
At the end of Sunday afternoon, everyone seemed to had a great time, especially the children! Seeing such trail transform the gallery which could be a very intimidating space, into a fun and family friendly experience was really worth all the effort. I hope they will take on the success of this event and develop an ongoing programme for thier Family audience in the future.

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