Families Create Art in AMAM Community Day Event


Photo Courtesy of Jonathan Clark

Allen Memorial Art Museum community day visitors constructed miniature barricades.

On Saturday, the Allen Memorial Art Museum hosted its semiannual community day event. The program aims to provide an educational and artistic introduction to the museum to families in Oberlin and beyond. 

“The community day event, prior to COVID and now that we’re relaunching it, happens twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring,” Eric and Jane Nord Family Curator of Education at the AMAM Jill Greenwood said. “It is open to everyone, and we try to reach out to various community groups and organizations throughout Lorain County, not just here in Oberlin. These events typically draw a really diverse group, which I love. … We have a number of programs for K-12 as well, so we are constantly reaching out to the teachers to see if we can get them to come into the museum. That weaves together with our gallery guide program, which is made up of Oberlin College students who are learning about museum education by giving tours to K-12 kids and the general public.”

Families, community members, and students stopped by for a number of activities, including an art scavenger hunt around the museum and a crafting activity inspired by Ahmet Öğüt’s conceptual work, Bakunin’s Barricade. The work was selected largely due to the interest it garnered during tours. Materials such as popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, and stickers were available for visitors to use in building their own barricades. 

College fourth-year Gillian Ferguson mentioned how excited children were to be engaging with the art.

“I was responsible for having the families fill out feedback forms, so while the parents filled out paperwork, I got to ask the kids if they ever made any art like this before, which most of them hadn’t,” Ferguson said. “[The kids] were super excited to point out all of the elements in their barricades; they were all so interested in the materials they used and the materials used in Bakunin’s Barricade.”

Oberlin resident Suzanne Jenkins attended AMAM’s community day with her family and remarked on the benefit of having indoor activities available for children during the winter months. Although Jenkins had never brought her children to the AMAM before, this event served as a good introduction to the space.

“I think a lot of kids, ours included, are very tactile — they want to touch everything, which isn’t ideal in an art museum,” Jenkins said. “Craft activities for kids are great because their attention spans are limited when it comes to talking about art and what it means. Here, the ideas are introduced in a way that is digestible, as opposed to talking about a painting for 30 minutes. [My kids] both love crafts and building things, so it seemed like a fun thing to do and a way to get them into the museum in a way where we wouldn’t have to be chasing them around and telling them not to touch everything. This is the kind of event that can safely get kids in here, get them interacting with the art and the materials in a way that they can relate to and that is kid-friendly.”

Aside from community day events, the museum has many other approaches to reaching children and families, as well as expanding accessibility to art and the museum. One of these methods is its in-school programming, through which gallery guides bring the AMAM’s collection into classrooms.

“Going into schools is a big way we get families into the museum,” AMAM Curatorial Assistant Ellis Lane, OC ’22, said. “Kids hear about the museum in school, then they have the chance to bring their whole family here. Many of the kids I saw at this community day I’ve met in past tours and in-school events, which I think is really special. Having that multi-faceted programming, where we are both out in the community and bringing them in here, I think is a really powerful way that those connections are being made.”