Kids' Exhibits All the Rage for Annual Museum Mile Festival

By Della Hasselle on May 17, 2012 8:58am 

The Museum Mile Festival returns to Fifth Avenue in June.
The Museum Mile Festival returns to Fifth Avenue in June.
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Museum Mile Festival

UPPER EAST SIDE — Museum Mile will transform into a "stroller haven" next month, when the 34th annual Museum Mile Festival turns Fifth Avenue into a family friendly block party, according to festival organizers.

The event will take over the sidewalks and block off Fifth Ave. from 82nd to 105 streets when nine of the city's museums open their doors for free on June 12 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., and bring music and art outside.

"Art making is a fantastic way for kids to visualize something abstract in a really concrete way," said Elizabeth Hamby, the children's Neighborhood Explorers Coordinator for the Museum of the City of New York.

The Museum of the City of New York, along with four more of the nine participating museums, will offer interactive children's activities for New York's future painters and urban planners, bringing exhibits from the walls of the museums outside.

This year, The Museum of the City of New York will offer its first large-scale outdoor kids activity that directly coordinates with an exhibit inside the museum.

"The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan, 1811- 2011" is an interactive chalk-drawing project that lets kids alter the original 1811 Commissioner Plan to make it more closely resemble today's city grid.

Based on a giant stencil that stretches about 20 to 25 feet, the colorful chalk drawing will stretch from the entrance of the museum to the edge of Central Park to take advantage of the street closure.

"Anybody can jump in," Hamby said. "We'll show hands-on how the city evolved over the past 200 years."

Student volunteers from Neighborhood Explorers, the museum's weekly children's program, will help participants draw in Central Park, extend the grid to reach above 155th Street and create other alterations that were added to or changed from the 1811 plan.

"The great thing about New York is that all around us the city tells a story about where we come from and where we are going in the future," Hamby said. "We all have a stake in it."

Down the street at The Jewish Museum, kids will be able to create patterned sketches and rubbings inspired by the paintings of the featured artists Kehinde Wiley and Edouard Vuillard.

The Museum Mile Festival returns to Fifth Avenue in June.
The Museum Mile Festival returns to Fifth Avenue in June.
View Full Caption
Museum Mile Festival

The activity is based on two exhibitions that will be on view during the Museum Mile Festival, "Kehinde Wiley/The World Stage: Israel" and "Edouard Vuillard: A Painter and His Muses, 1890-1940."

During the festival, kids will be able to see the differences and similarities between the two artists by examining how they used patterns, texture and environment to create their works.

"I think its important for kids, in terms of them looking closer and making their own personal connection to the art," said Rachel Katz, the Family Program Manager of the Jewish Museum.

"We will ask them what kind of animals or patterns they'd include in their backdrops if they were the artists, or what colors they use to say things about themselves."

This is the third year that The Jewish Museum is offering interactive activities for kids based on an exhibit happening inside the museum. The first year, coordinators at the museum were inspired by the enthusiasm in response to the exhibit "Curious George Saves the Day: The Art of Margret and H.A. Rey."

"We had an explosion of family participation," Katz said. "I thought that I'd like to do something for the kids every year after that."

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the National Academy Museum and School and El Museo del Barrio will also offer events for children this year.

Kids' entertainers like Fredo the Magician and Juggler Josh will also join musical entertainers including Hayes Greenfield Jazz Band and Pianist David Kaplan.

The annual Museum Mile Festival takes place rain or shine on Tuesday, June 12, 2012, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 pm.

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