A new study has found that children in the UK have a “deeply ingrained” desire to go to art museums.
It found that “art is a way of communicating with the world”, and “the children’s ability to imagine and build an image of the world” is at the core of why they are drawn to art.
Read moreArt museums are “inherently different from other kinds of museums” because they “are places where children can see and feel the world through their own eyes, where they can interact with people and find connections”, says the study, which was conducted by the British Museum, The University of Manchester and the National Art Gallery.
“These museums are not just places to see artwork.
They are also places where they are able to imagine the world and see their world through the eyes of others.”
Read moreArt is a “way of communicating and being open to the world”.
“The children’s interest in art is so deep and it has a deep influence on their thinking about the world, their life and their future,” says Dr Sue Brown, senior lecturer at The University and the senior author of the paper.
The study, published in the journal Child Development, looked at over 3,000 children aged three to 13 from different parts of England.
It was led by Dr Brown, who is also the director of the British Art Museum, who was part of a team that also included Dr Michael Batson, the director at the National Museum of Scotland and a senior research scientist at the Royal Botanic Gardens.
“Our research showed that children who grew up in art museums were very interested in art, they wanted to know what it was all about, and they were interested in going to art,” she says.
“Art is also a way to communicate with the outside world and the world is a place where children are able see and understand the world.”
The study found that while the number of children who would go to a museum for a children’s art class was “somewhat low” at 1.6 per cent, the number who went to a childrens art class at an art museum was almost three times as high.
In fact, more than a third of children aged six to 10 at the art museum said they would go if given the opportunity to, while more than half of children between four and 11 at the arts museum said the same.
The results also revealed that art was an integral part of the childrens lives.
The majority of children had experienced a sense of “being part of something special”, and the majority had experienced the “greatness” of a museum experience.
“Children’s creativity and creativity is something that is very much at the heart of what we do,” says Brown.
“We’ve found that the most important thing for a child to achieve in life is to be able to express themselves and be a part of their world.”
Brown says that art has become more important in the last few years.
“The number of museums in the United Kingdom has gone from zero to more than 20, and now we’re seeing the opening of more and more museums, we’re also seeing more children’s arts programmes being launched,” she explains.
“This is an area where the arts have really changed, the way children interact with art has changed.”
In the UK, children are expected to participate in an art-focused class every week, which is now part of childrens school life.
The study also found that art is also important in learning new things.
“It’s very important for children to learn about their culture and their country, to learn how art works, and to have a sense that they are not alone in their experiences,” Brown says.
“Children are able, in their early years, to develop a sense about their world and their culture.”
The report also revealed some interesting findings about art museums and how they are run.
“Many of the art museums in England are run as ‘private art museums’ and they are very private places, and that’s not a problem,” says Professor Ian Tewksbury, a senior lecturer in art history at The Royal College of Art and a member of the study.
“In fact they’re very good at keeping the art away from the public,” he says.”[The public] are never invited into the art galleries, they have to go through the door.”
In fact it’s not that museums are too private, it’s just that they have a low profile, which means that people do not go into them, says Tewmsbury.
“There’s a very high bar for entry into a museum.”
Read the full study at The Art Museum of the University of Sheffield.