Teaching Art Appreciation to Children

Developing educational interactive activities for the Early Learning Zone at the Cleveland Museum of Art to help young visitors of the age group of 4 to 8 years old to learn about the basic elements of art, discover connections between them and begin to think comparatively about art.

Three different interactive play and games designed for the Cleveland Museum of Art in collaboration with n collaboration with Local Projects LLC, New York.

In an effort to provide such an experience of benefitting an art education to encompass an expansive view of art, three different art activities were developed – Sorting & matching game, Colour Mix and line and shape.

Sorting & Matching Game
Prototype video for the Sorting and Matching game

Animations and interactions designed for the sorting and matching the game

Sorting & matching game tries to introduce young learners to appreciate visual art, as well as the process of learning from observing the commonalities of themes that are present in various artworks either by material, technique, context or cultural origin. The game tries to prepare children to notice and appreciate the diversity of representations of subject matter that are present in different art-form.


For example in case of portraits, it can represent individuals in many different ways. There can be literal representations of a person or they can represent a person symbolically (to the right). In the first painting of Portrait of Catherine Gray, (fig 1, to the right) the artist has tried portraying a realistic impression of a lady and has paid attention to capturing precise facial features.
But in case of the second painting by Vincent van Gogh, Portrait of Joseph Roulin (1889), (fig.1 to the left) in order to represent a more subjective and symbolic aspect of their subjects, the artist paid less attention to details than to developing new compositional devices, employing non-naturalistic colour and making very specific choices about the background and what it might
reveal about the subject.

The working flow of the game

One selects an image, the hint is revealed (1) and then the hunt for the other images starts. And then selects the second matching pair of the theme.(2) When a correct match is made, a line joins these two images indicating it is the correct match. (3) Then the player looks for the last image for the perfect set. (4) Once all three matching images are selected, they are joined by lines and the player scores 100 points. (5)

The Sorting and Matching Game set-up at the Cleveland Museum of Art

Colour Mix
Colour Mix is another interactive installation at the museum, which tries to create a digital stage for children to paint using their hands and without the use of any technical interfaces. Children can use their gestures to create different strokes, lines and textures relating to a variety of interpretive styles and mediums. Mediums like ink, gouache, acrylic or oil and different colours can be selected from the array of cards placed in front of the projected screen. This installation tries to show children how colours are mixed to produce complementary or tertiary colours.

The prototype video of color activity designed for the Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio

Few images of the prototypes: 

Line and Shape Activity
The lines and shape is an interactive installation at the Early Learning zone, in The Cleveland Museum of Art. It is an installation where children and their adult companions can come and explore drawing line and see what their creation can reveal into. The Line & Shape interface is meant to allow children to create a collective infinite line drawing. This installation allows children to view variety of options that can be drawn from their scribbling, also allows them to appreciate the art form they have created.

The height at which the multi-touch screen has to be mounted was decided after considering the anthropometric data of children of age groups 4 to 6 old. As the touch points on screen are placed in the lower half of the screen, the ‘Take of Point’ was based on the ‘access’. Thus starting from 5th percentile (75 cms), considering the 95th percentile the access height was fixed at 84 cms. Thus the screen was placed 50 cms from the floor.

These activities were conceptualized and designed in course of six months. Of these three, the alpha prototype of the colour mix and the sorting & matching game were developed and tested at the Cleveland Museum of Art. After the alpha prototype testing phase, the colour Mix and line & shape installations were taken forward by Digital Artist Zach Lieberman and my role was to continue working further on the interaction design and development of the sorting and matching game. These activities will be installed and inaugurated in the Cleveland Museum of Art during autumn 2012.

This project was part of my Master thesis at the National Institute of Design, India.
Collaborated in conceptual development, interaction design, interface design and prototyping and development of one of the game with Local Project LLC, New york.

Principal: Jake Barton.
Head of Interaction Designer : Ian Curry.
Art Director: Katie Lee.
Project Directors: Tiya Gordon.
Graphic Designer: Claire Lin, Micheal Deal.
Graphic Design Intern: Lynn Kiang.
Interaction design Intern: Promila Roychoudhury & Sures Kumar.
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