Mead Art Museum Supports Community-Based Education

Family Fun Days at the Mead Art Museum in Amherst

“Family Fun Days have been so popular in the past, we decided to make them even more frequent,” noted Wendy Somes, Coordinator of Community Programs. The increase is part of the Mead’s ongoing mission to connect families, teachers, and community organizations with their local art museum, she said. “We believe that museums are educational AND fun places for families to learn together.”

When we think of places in our community we can visit to support our children’s interests and education, museums are often the first institutions we think of… and rightly so! Their exhibit-filled galleries offer lots of educational potential, with both permanent and changing exhibits families can use to learn about a variety of topics throughout the year. However, without interpretation or support, the vast amount of information present in museum exhibits can be difficult to navigate and make accessible for children with little background knowledge.

Keeping this in mind, the Mead Art Museum in Amherst, MA, is now offering monthly Family Fun Days, making museum-based learning not only more accessible for families with younger children, but a whole lot of fun too! Family Fun Days aren’t new to the Museum,  but their popularity has encouraged the Museum to host them as a monthly event! Each month brings a new theme that matches an exhibit hanging in the museum’s galleries, and families will get a chance to learn about the theme through hands-on activities, guided gallery tours, read-alouds of children’s books, and group discussions. Not only will the educational potential of the museum be unlocked by museum guides and interpreters, but children will be able to learn in a collaborative, multi-age environment where they share their thoughts and observations with others and gain insight from information shared by other visitors.

February’s Family Fun Day will be held on Saturday, February 15th from 11am-2pm – and admission is free! This month’s theme is feasts and medieval life, and will include a kid-friendly tour of the museum’s Rotherwas Room. Additionally, families can do crown-themed crafts, listen to a reading the picture book A Medieval Feast by Aliki, and participate in a discussion about feasts and the foods included in them. The event presents an opportunity for children to be involved in consent-based learning about medieval history and culture, and to explore the art of the era.

Family Fun Days will be held by the museum on the third Saturday of each month. Upcoming themes include portraits and costumes, animals and landscapes, and color, shape, and texture. Admission to the events is always free, and families can further explore the topics introduced at each event by borrowing a Family Fun Tote while you visit. The kits, which are designed to offer families with resources for further learning while exploring the museum, are not available on Family Fun Days due to limited supplies. However, families can visit the museum before or after a special event to prep for their upcoming tour or to follow-up on topics that they became curious about during a previous visit! The contents of the kits change frequently, so call the museum at 413-542-5123 to find out what’s in the current totes.

Other upcoming dates and themes are:

  • Saturday, March 15, 2014: portraits and costume
  • Saturday, April 19, 2014: animals, nature, and landscapes
  • Saturday, May 17, 2014: color, shapes, and textures
  • Saturday, June 21, 2014: Fizz, Boom, Read! Summer Reading Program kick-off with the Beneski Museum of Natural History and the Jones Public Library.

A complete schedule of the museum’s events is posted on the Mead Art Museum website: www.amherst.edu/museums/mead. The Mead Art Museum houses the art collection of Amherst College, spanning 5,000 years and encompassing the creative achievements of many world cultures. The museum and its gift shop-café are open Tuesday through Sunday from 9am-5pm. year-round, and until 12midnight on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday during the academic term. The Mead is also open the first Thursday of every month until 8 p.m. for Amherst Art Walk.  Located at 41 Quadrangle Drive in Amherst, MA, admission to the Museum, including all exhibitions and events, is always free of charge.

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