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published: March 2004
analytic scripts updated:  October 28, 2010

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0  License



Making Web Sites for Young Audiences
Allegra Burnette, The Museum of Modern Art, USA
Deborah Schwartz, The Museum of Modern Art, USA

Session: Museum Education and the Classroom

With a newly energized commitment to young audiences, The Museum of Modern Art has recently developed two Web sites, one for young children ages 5 to 8, and the other directed towards teenagers. In the process, the Museum's Educators and the Digital Media team who collaborated on these projects used the opportunity to bring in the voices and ideas of children and teens, to introduce the curatorial staff to some new playful approaches to the collections, and finally to explore how the resources developed for these sites might interface with other agendas within the Museum. This paper will focus primarily on the development of the teen site, while using both sites to demonstrate modes of audience input, the development of software for multiple purposes, and strategies for marketing sites to young audiences.'

The Teen site, called 'Red Studio' after Matisse's famous painting, was premised on the notion that teens are excited by direct and immediate contact with working artists, even artists whose work is quite complex. The site will eventually include a collection of 'features', focusing on a diverse array of artists whose work is in MoMA's collection. Working with a small group of teenagers from local high schools, most of whom had participated in the Museum's programs previously, the project began with a study of Vito Acconci, who the students studied, met and ultimately interviewed on camera. The site includes an interactive interview section, comprised of video clips of the teen interview with Acconci, related topics, questions and polls for soliciting teen response, in addition to a glossary, and a visual timeline of the artist's work. Running parallel to this exploration of the artist and his work is a competition in which teens are invited to participate by creating and submitting their own design for an art project that is related to Acconci's work. The site provides a set of contest parameters, online design tools, and a space for each competitor to articulate his or her explanation for the submission. (Acconci, curatorial and Education staff will judge the competition.) Red Studio marks the Museum's deepening commitment to teen audiences, their need for participatory activities, and their strong sense of connection to the unexpected and challenging aspects of contemporary art. The question of how to create a Web site with and for teens that also speaks to the needs and responsibilities of this international museum are central themes that will be explored in this paper.