Educational Programming

From Rattles to Rothko: Art Babes at Akron Art Museum

by Dominic Caruso, Design, Marketing and Communications Coordinator

In a recent online article (“From pacifiers to Picassos: Museums cater to a younger clientele”) for the Washington Post, contributor Vicky Hallett wrote about the growing trend for museums of all kinds to offer programming and specially-designed spaces for children as young as newborns. While some institutions have been at it for some time (the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia has been running a baby-tour program since 2007), others have created programs relatively recently, for number of different reasons. I can tell you about the reasons behind the programs for babies and their caregivers at the Akron Art Museum.

Art Babes: Cardboard Crawl at the Akron Art Museum.

Art Babes: Cardboard Crawl at the Akron Art Museum.

Beyond school tours, which bring upwards of 7000 local students into the museum galleries every year, and programs for children ages 3 through 12, the endlessly creative, skilled educators at the Akron Art Museum have hosted kids from 0 – 18 months old and their grown-ups with a fun monthly program called Art Babes since September 2014. Art Babes is fun, for babies and caregivers. There’s no doubt that the program is beneficial for moms, dads, grandparents, nannies and other caregivers. They experience a fresh adventure with their little ones at each Art Babes. Visiting a space that is exciting, with innovative things to look at and do is exciting for grown-ups and babies alike. Many visitors have shared that witnessing the carefree, unscripted experiences of their children at the museum takes them back to their own childhood, helping them to unplug from the day’s frustrations, recharge and tune in to the present with their kids.

Helen Frankenthaler-inspired Art Babes at the Akron Art Museum

Helen Frankenthaler-inspired Art Babes at the Akron Art Museum.

The program also helps to build an important community between the adults, as they come to develop friendships, a greater sense of trust and a more global approach to their everyday lives. The personal connection with each other and with the museum keeps caregivers coming back. They become a part of the museum family. Like a family relationship, Art Babes has become a collaborative effort: parents are part of the process and what they bring to the group is valued.

You may wonder what the lasting effect a museum visit could have on a baby who likely won’t remember it.  We believe that art is for everyone, even babies—maybe especially babies—given that a child’s brain doubles in size during her/his first year. All that growth is the manifest destiny of being human. The kinds of experiences that caregivers can introduce into the course of that growth help to create their child’s means of processing information later on—the way that they, like all humans, creatively interact with the world. While they may not have a specific memory of Art Babes, babies are still building vital skills that will serve them later on.

Art Babes at the Akron Art Museum

Art Babes at the Akron Art Museum

Art Babes presents experiences for babies that engage a full range of sensory activities, including visually stimulating play with colors and shapes, as well as tactile play, sounds, tastes, even scents. It’s a welcoming environment for a unique learning (and bonding) experience between babies and their grown-ups.

Art Babes

Art Babes: Cardboard Crawl at the Akron Art Museum.

Art Babes is a component of several programs, which we refer to as Live Creative, for kids and families at the museum. These include: Tots Create, for 2 – 3 year-olds; Art Tales, for all ages; Creative Playdates, for 0 – 5 year olds; Kids Studio Classes, for 7 – 12 year olds; and Family Days. In the time that we’ve used Live Creative to refer to programming, we discovered that it grew beyond its use as a title or label. It became a reason for why we do what we do at the museum. To be human is to be creative, regardless of whether you are an artist, an auto mechanic, an accountant, or a months-old newborn. Art can help you to enhance the way you creatively interact with your world to live a more fulfilled life.

Live Creative at the Akron Art Museum.

Live Creative at the Akron Art Museum.

Check out upcoming programs, like Art Babes, for children and families at the Akron Art Museum.

How To: Bathtub Snow Graffiti

By Amanda Crowe, Assistant Educator

Follow-up to “Winter Wonderland” Playdate, Thursday, February 6, 2014

Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland

When ice storms block your children from going outside, you can still give them the opportunity to be spontaneous and creative with nature by bringing the outside in.

Snow.  One of the most elemental, memorable art mediums from your childhood.  Recreate those memories for your little ones by making your bathtub the canvas!  With easy clean up and minimal effort, your child can be the bathtub graffiti artist of your household.

Materials needed:

  • Large empty container for carrying snow
  • Spray bottles filled with water and various colors

Note: Dilute a few drops of food coloring or liquid watercolor into each bottle.  Crayola poster paints watered down will also work. Test surfaces for staining first before painting.

  • If spray bottles are unavailable, use old ketchup or mustard bottles, squeezable jelly containers, a turkey baster or ear and nose syringe
  • Bathtub full of snow
  • Apron and towels
  • Extras: Popsicle or craft sticks, marbles, toy people and animals, sand toys such as small buckets and shovels, stuff from the kitchen such as measuring spoons and rolling pins, essential oils such as lavender or peppermint, and, of course, glitter.
Bathtub Graffiti

Bathtub Snow Graffiti


For starters, I like to mix up three bottles of primary colors: red, yellow and blue.  That way, your child is not only creating, but learning about color mixing and combinations. The more colors, the better.  But even one bottle of colored “paint” will do.

For an educational yet playful experience, try lining up the bottles on the tub’s edge.  Refer to the spray bottles as your child’s “artist tools,” the colored water as the “color palette,” and the white snow as “your canvas.”

Now…start spraying!

Additional Idea Prompts:

Remember, you can adjust the spray nozzle for a lesson about lines – fat, thin, wiggly.  Or create a splatter effect and discuss street artists who use graffiti as a form of expression.  Use the toy animals to make painted animal tracks.  Arrange random toys to make a collage.  Hide items and take turns counting how many your child finds.  Spell words in the snow using magnetic letters or alphabet blocks.  Create a LEGO Arctic landscape. Once the fun starts, there are endless opportunities for spending meaningful time playing in the snow together.

If the snow is too cold for little hands, try an alternative:

Shaving cream and baking soda.  Stir equal amounts of each until the snow becomes a thick, mousse consistency.  This “snow” can also be combined with food coloring or watercolor paint.  Try fingerpainting with it on sturdy paper plates for a snowy masterpiece you can keep – as it will air dry and harden overnight.


Kids Studio: Lego Landscape
Saturday, February 15, 2014

Give your “mini figures” their own mini world by creating a diorama—an entire landscape in a box that you can carry with you.  The imaginative world you design may appear as a freeze frame in history or tell a story about the future, or both!  Build your dream-like diorama using a blend of mediums and materials, including: Lego bricks, acrylic paint, clay, plaster, found and recycled objects and wire.  Key sculptural works in the Museum’s collection as well as the current exhibition of artist Diana Al-Hadid’s “Nolli’s Orders” will be explored.

Studio class is 12-3 pm.  Cost per class $10/member child, $15/non-member child.  Registration is required. Ages 5-7. 

Story Time in the Galleries
Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Quilt, by Ann Jonas: A small African-American girl is overjoyed with the new patchwork quilt her parents have made. As she sleeps, it comes alive, turning into a fantastical dreamscape she must enter in order to find her beloved stuffed dog. Travel to the studio after the story and share stories with local quilters while you make your own “no-sew” story quilt.

No registration required.  

Story Time is 11:15 am – 12:15 pm on the third Thursday of each month, when the museum offers complimentary gallery admission to all visitors. No registration required.  ALL AGES welcome!

Family Day: Printmakingpalooza!
Saturday, February 22, 2014

Have you ever used a rubber stamp or peeled silly putty off newspaper?  If you answered yes, then you’ve created a print.  Experimenting with printmaking allows young artists to try out different techniques and to see cause and effect in action more dramatically than with simply painting or drawing. Your budding master printmaker will enjoy testing unusual mediums like Jell-O and shaving cream at our printmaking “buffet,” which includes: mono-printing on the tabletop, gyotaku, or Japanese fish rubbing, printing with wheels, mirror-image string prints, Styrofoam, bubble wrap, and muffin tin printing, and macaroni collagraphs.

12-4 pm. Admission is free for families. No registration required. ALL AGES welcome!

Lego Landscape

Here Comes Halloween

Halloween is coming a little early to the Akron Art Museum. Check out our Halloween-y art all week long and join us for Halloween inspired events on Thursday, October 24 and Thursday, October 31.



Real/Surreal is the perfect artist treat to visit during Halloween. Come down to the galleries and experience how American realist and surrealist artists used details and imagination to create compositions with disconcerting undertones of seemingly ordinary scenes. Included in the exhibition are hooded figures, anatomical paintings, photographs of masked people and eerie streetscapes. This exhibition, while fantastical and peculiar, is suitable for children.

Included in Real/Surreal is the untitled work by Ralph Eugene Meatyard pictured above. Meatyard is best known for his photographs that examine the bizarre and mysterious realms that exist within our everyday world.  His enigmatic images illustrate a realm of disturbing and unsettling intimacy, creating scenes of haunting ghostly figures and children wearing monstrous masks.

In the Galleries

Lee Bontecou has always been deeply affected by social issues, war and politics.  In the work below she expressed those attitudes through her choice of materials and an abstract visual language:  the grid of entrapment, sharp edges that “mentally scrape the viewer” and ominous black openings.


Free Thursdays

Gallery admission is free every Thursday at the Akron Art Museum. We’d love to see you put on your costumes and prowl around the galleries. Take your picture in front of Claes Oldenburg’s Inverted Q in the lobby and tag it with #iQAAM. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more.

Trick or Treat on South High
Thursday, October 24 at 6:30-8:30 pm

Make sure you wear your costumes as you  trick-or-treat for art supplies in the galleries from 6:30-8:30 pm. T here will be art-making activities in the lobby and guided tours of Real/Surreal.  Advance registration required.

Arthouse Film: The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology
Thursday, October 24 at 7 pm

Always wondering when that amazing indie film you see in the paper is going to make it to Akron? See the latest and greatest in new cinema before anyone else. This week you can whizz along with the intellectual film The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology, a film that covers the ideology behind the films we watch. Through psychoanalysis Slavoj Žižek explores “the mechanisms that shape what we believe and how we behave.”

Check for up-to-date film listings and tickets. Tickets are $5 members and students, $7 nonmembers.

Attack of the Freakishly Short Animation Fest
Thursday, October 31 at 7 pm

Comic, dark and beautiful shorts make up this sixth annual event—a perennial favorite. Join us for a one-night tour of the best of international animation festivals. This annual event tends to be extremely popular, so reserve your seat online at Tickets are $5 members and students and $7 nonmembers. Recommended for ages 16+.

Downtown@Dusk: The Speedbumps

This week’s Downtown@Dusk features Kent-area band the Speedbumps. Concert attendees can also enjoy a discussion from Collections Manager Arnold Tunstall and food from Old Carolina BBQ  while kids are entertained by fun art activities during ArtCamp@Dusk  in the museum’s classroom.

Concert goers will be delighted by the Speedbumps’ eclectic sound and organic feel.

Through the utilization of hollow-bodied instruments like cello, upright bass, ukulele and acoustic guitar, the Speedbumps produce music that is both approachable and relatable to any audience. The Speedbumps have opened for many well-known artists including Amos Lee, Andrew Bird, OK GO and the Verve Pipe.

Collections Manager Arnold Tunstall will be leading a discussion titled “Cycle Maniacs and Reckless Women” for the ArtTalks@Dusk ( on July 11 from 7:30-8 pm.

The theme for ArtCamp@Dusk is “Cityscape Collage,” where kids will create their own vibrant city using images from magazines and postcards. Free for members, $5 each session for nonmembers. Registration is required for this class. Sign up at

The Museum Store will be open during Downtown@Dusk until 9 pm (admission is not required to shop at the store).

Exhibitions currently on view in the museum galleries include Danny Lyon: The Bikeriders  and Draw Me a Story and Line Color Illusion: 40 Years of Julian Stanczak. For detailed information on these exhibitions and other events, please visit the museum’s exhibitions page and calendar of events.

Want to know more about the band before you see them perform? The Speedbumps were kind enough to answer a few questions about themselves and Downtown@Dusk!

How has your newest album been received?

“Our new album comes out in October! But we will play a few new songs at Downtown@Dusk.”

Where and how do you gather your inspiration for new music?

“Our music tends to be autobiographical, so many of the songs we write are personal. The people we love or the places we go and the experiences we have with those people and places have a lot to do with what we create. Music is all about the human condition.”

You’ve played for some well-known bands like Amos Lee and Andrew Bird. What keeps you coming back to play for Downtown@Dusk?

It’s always fun to play for Downtown@Dusk. It’s really a chance to touch base with family and friends in Akron. We are happy to be coming back again this year!

What is your favorite memory playing at Downtown@Dusk?

…the thing about Downtown@Dusk is the vibe of the people. We always leave in a good mood and I think that is a direct reflection of the people who frequent the concert series. True art and music fans.”

Downtown@Dusk 2013 is made possible by The City of Akron. It is presented in cooperation with 89.7 WKSU.

ArtCamp@Dusk 2013 is made possible by a gift from The Howland Memorial Fun and the House of LaRose.

ArtTalks@Dusk 2013 is made possible by a gift from the Sam & Kathy Salem Philanthropic Fund of the Jewish Community Board of Akron.

Downtown@Dusk: Robin Stone

The Akron Art Museum’s popular concert series Downtown@Dusk will continue on Thursday, June 27 from 6:30-8:30 pm with a performance from singer Robin Stone. Concert goers can also enjoy a sneak preview of the upcoming exhibition With a Trace: Photographs of Absence from Senior Curator Ellen Rudolph and food from Urban Eats while kids are entertained and educated by fun hands-on activities during ArtCamp@Dusk in the museum’s classroom.

Concert attendees will thoroughly enjoy Stone’s  soulful, intelligent groove music and be inspired by the personal hardships she has endured and overcome. For the past few years, Stone has struggled with health issues that have affected her life in many ways. In 2008, Stone was diagnosed with a tumor on her vocal chords causing loss of voice. One year later, she was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder. Instead of succumbing to these ailments, Stone succeeding in starting a record label, She Loves You Records, and released a new record and live album. Stone was also awarded “Best Vocalist of 2009” from Scene Magazine.

Senior Curator Ellen Rudolph will be giving a sneak preview of the upcoming exhibition With a Trace: Photographs of Absence  for the ArtTalk@Dusk this Thursday. The exhibition features images that do not merely capture a single scene but create unique, individual moments in time. Unlike many digital photographs today, the images in this exhibition, created by analog or camera-less photographers, include traces of human presence, atmospheric phenomena, the transmission of energy and experiments with light. The lack of specificity and context in the photgraphs heightens the presence of something uncanny, creating with them otherworldly scenes. With a Trace: Photographs of Absence will be on view July 27, 2013-January 26, 2014, in the Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell Gallery.

While the adults enjoy the concert and museum galleries, children 6-12 can explore fun and wacky hands-on art activities in the museum’s classroom at ArtCamp@Dusk. This Thursday’s class is “Express Yourself,” where kids will use lines, shapes and colors to make an abstract painting and discover their artistic expression. Free for members, $5 each session for nonmembers. Registration is required for this class. Sign up here.

The Museum Store will be open during Downtown@Dusk until 9 pm (admission is not required to shop at the store). The museum collection and galleries will also be open until 9 pm with paid admission except for July 18 and August 15 when the museum premieres Third Thursday.

Exhibitions currently on view in the museum galleries include The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats, Danny Lyon: The Bikeriders, Draw Me a Story and Line Color Illusion: 40 Years of Julian Stanczak. For detailed information on these exhibitions and other events, please visit the museum’s exhibitions page and calendar of events.

Finally, the Akron Art Museum would like to thank all who attended last week’s Downtown@Dusk concert. We hope you had a great time and return to see more great local music every Thursday evening at the museum!


Curious what Downtown@Dusk is like? Check out Summer in the City 2013: (Volume 2: Downtown@Dusk):


Downtown@Dusk 2013 is made possible by The City of Akron. It is presented in cooperation with 89.7 WKSU.

ArtCamp@Dusk 2013 is made possible by a gift from The Howland Memorial Fun and the House of LaRose.

ArtTalks@Dusk 2013 is made possible by a gift from the Sam & Kathy Salem Philanthropic Fund of the Jewish Community Board of Akron.

Akron Film+Pixel

It’s that time of year when film critics release their lists of the best movies of the past year. But many of the films listed won’t play in the Akron area until months later, if at all! Since it’s more exciting to see films when the rest of the world is talking about them, Akron Film+Pixel began a new series that brings current, critically acclaimed films to the Akron Art Museum. The first film, Miguel Gomes’s TABU, was warmly received, and we continue on Thursday, January 24th with NEIGHBORING SOUNDS by Kleber Mendonça Filho.

“We’re filling a gap for ‘arthouse’ cinema,” says Akron Film+Pixel Film Curator Tim Peyton. “Cleveland has the Cinematheque and Cedar Lee Theatre, but until now there’s been no place in Akron to see new festival films on the big screen, with an audience.”

NEIGHBORING SOUNDS deals with the fallout of a series of petty crimes in a seaside community, and the private security firm that is brought in to solve the problem. The Akron premiere is at 6:30pm on January 24th, and is free and open to the public. Seating is available on a first come, first served basis. Get full details here, or watch the trailer below.

2012 in Review

By: Bridgette Beard Klein, Communications Assistant


This image is from one of the most popular posts from our blog this year (and ever). Here the Inverted Q is shown through the Chromatic Vision Simulator’s Protanope filter. To view the Q’s typical appearance, visit the Akron Art Museum’s Online Collection.

2012 has been an exhilarating year for the Akron Art Museum. We continued to launch our new visual look, celebrated 90 years in the community, exhibited monumental art and made major leadership changes.

We really kicked off the year with our 90th anniversary celebration in February. The performance included abstract painter Al Bright in concert with the Jesse Dandy Band. In March, Ray Turner: Population opened featuring an ever-expanding series of portraits, including key Akronites from the University Park neighborhood and even some Akron Art Museum staff.

April and May saw the staff preparing for the sale of Cindy Sherman’s Untitled #96 at Christie’s Post War and Contemporary Art – Evening Sale on May 8, 2012. The money raised from the sale created a new acquisitions endowment. We retained another 1981 masterpiece by Cindy Sherman from the Centerfolds series, Untitled #93 (Black Sheets), subsequently named Sherman the 2011-2012 Knight Purchase Award recipient and purchased several works from her Bus Riders series.

Gravity and Grace: Monumental Works by El Anatsui opened in June with the artist present in Akron! The Akron Art Museum was the first modern and contemporary art museum in the US to collect Anatsui’s work and is thrilled to organize the major traveling exhibition. Huffington Post recently called its presentation at the Brooklyn Museum one of “The 25 Most Anticipated Exhibitions of the New Year.” You can catch the exhibition on its national tour through 2014.

The summer sizzled with the always popular Downtown@Dusk concert series and the new to 2012 ArtCamp@Dusk for kids to enjoy while their parents listen and embarrassingly dance to music. In July, we launched our completely redesigned website and enacted two major admission changes. Children 17 years and younger are now admitted FREE to the museum’s galleries. Beginning in July, visitors receive FREE admission to the collection and exhibition galleries all day from 11 am – 9 pm, on the third Thursday of every month.

After 26 years as director, with one of the longest tenures of any art museum leader in the country, Dr. Mitchell D. Kahan announced to the Akron Art Museum’s Board of Trustees that his resignation, effective January 2, 2013, and assume the title of Director Emeritus. Janice Driesbach joined the staff in August after a yearlong national search, as the museum’s new Chief Curator and was named Interim Director in December.

The colder weather hasn’t slowed down this mammoth year. Sculpture exhibitions Adolph Gottlieb: Sculptor  and New Artifacts: Works by Brent Kee Young and Sungsoo Kim opened in late October.  In November, tribute was paid to Dr. Mitchell D. Kahan during a formal dinner on November 10 and a community day on November 11. Holiday mART expanded its hours to reach more people this year and the popular Island of Misfit Toys once again sold out.

You might think all of this is enough for one year, but think again. Just as many people were planning their final holiday shopping or how to best spend the time off with family, the Akron Art Museum announced a pledge from museum supporters Rick and Alita Rogers as the lead gift for the design and construction of its long awaited outdoor sculpture garden. The completed outdoor gallery and multi-use space will bear the name of Bruce and Susanne Rogers, Rick’s parents, who are among Akron’s most devoted community boosters.

From September to December, we added 131 new objects, many of which were donated in honor of Mitchell.  The museum’s commitment to photography holds strong and over half of the works in the collection are photographs. You can check out the museum’s collection at

As for the blog, some of the most popular posts have been The Q is Blue!, Staff Interview: Special Events Manager Sheri Stallsmith and Photographic Masks from the Collection.  We have some posts planned for the next couple of months that we can’t wait to share with you.

Don’t think the Akron Art Museum will rest on its laurel in 2013. As the search for a new director continues, the museum will open some amazing exhibitions and put on some great events.

 The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats pays tribute to award-winning author and illustrator Ezra Jack Keats (1916–1983), the first to feature an African-American protagonist in modern full-color picture books and will open on March 16, 2013. The exhibition Draw Me a Story (February 9 – August 4, 2013) will celebrate Keats’s legacy and the power of visual literacy and multiculturalism. Elementary students from area schools will created collaborative picture books. The student artists will also meet and work with award-winning children’s book author and illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh, who will be here in the spring.

Drawn entirely from the museum’s collection, Danny Lyon: Bikeriders highlights one of the artist’s most celebrated bodies of works. Now, nearly 50 years after their creation, the images retain their original power and raw energy. Line Color Illusion: 40 Years of Julian Stanczak showcases paintings and prints collected by the Akron Art Museum since 1970. The exhibition documents both Julian Stanczak’s impressive career as a master of color and the museum’s longstanding commitment to his work.

Art and Ale returns this year on March 8 and the galleries will even be open for the first hour! Get your tickets now to take advantage of special pricing. Meanwhile, kids and teens will be delighted with our studio class offerings, but don’t wait to sign up because these classes are in demand.

As always, check out the website, Facebook, Twitter and this blog for the most up-to-date Akron Art Museum information.