Designed in partnership with KOKO Architecture + Design and conceived by Heidi Holder, The Met’s Frederick P. and Sandra P. Rose Chair of Education in consultation with departments throughout the museum, the 3,500 square-foot interactive space invites the museum’s youngest visitors to explore, discover, and interact with art and what it’s made of.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art 81st Street Studio is a science and art play space for children.
Project Videos and Images
Exploring Art Through Materials
Understanding both the scientific properties and the artistic potential of materials is a fantastic entry point for children to understand and appreciate art. Integrated within a curving form are interactive touchscreens exploring three materials: clay, metal and wood. Each screen offers engaging activities enabling children to playfully compare materials, discover fun facts about material properties, and see real world examples of how artists use these properties to create objects. An adjacent microscope allows children to look at these materials up close. Together, these experiences encourage close looking and scientific investigation.
Learning Through Making
At the center of the 81st Street Studio is a form that resembles a tree. Beneath this tree is a digital station inviting visitors of all ages to make and play. Leveraging camera vision and projection, the station offers two interactive activities. First, visitors can use hands-on tools to carve their own “woodblock,” then create virtual “impressions” of their design in projected light with different colors, patterns, and other attributes. The second activity guides visitors to design physical drums, and then use digital tools to play them in a variety of styles.
Playing with the Science of Light
Across the back wall of the space is an immersive, multi-user interactive visual playground that celebrates how artists use light and color. The installation features a dynamic projection wall and light table. Here, children experiment with patterns and art images, using different modes—color, shadow and distortion—to playfully explore optics, the behavior and properties of light, while creating unique and mesmerizing visual displays.
Magic in the Details
Hidden throughout the space are what Heidi Holder, the museum’s Chair of Education, describes as ‘subtle magic.’ These are unexpected visual surprises that reward discovery and close looking. Small eyes peer out from unexpected places; as visitors approach, the eye blinks, before offering a delightful surprise from The Met collection for those paying close attention. These displays hint at the experience of visiting the full museum, where there is always something more to discover and explore.
Education is a critical—and very exciting—part of The Met’s mission, and we are proud to open the extraordinary new 81st Street Studio and further advance our role as a tremendously engaging resource for local and global communities. We are grateful to Bluecadet for their contributions in making the space an interactive learning experience for children.