Earlier this week, the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) sparked quite a bit of outrage from concerned parents after announcing plans to temporarily close and remodel its Studio Play children’s area inside of Gallery One, the museum’s innovative gallery that combines art and technology. When the museum announced Studio Play 2.0 was being redesigned to engage all ages, parents raised numerous concerns in over 100 comments on the CMA’s Facebook post
, the vast majority of which ranged from seriously concerned and disappointed to straight up angry.
Here's one sample comment:
"The Cleveland Museum of Art plans to close its only play space for children (Studio Play—filled with puzzles, tents, blocks, books, magnets, felt boards, puppets...) And replace it with media and technology for an older audience (which already exists and makes up the majority of Gallery One). There will be no space any longer for young children and families at the museum. Member families are extremely disappointed and upset. The Cleveland Museum of Art needs to have a space (free of technology, screens and media) for families and children—they need to be encouraging young families—the future of the museum—, not discouraging themThe CMA promises that Studio Play 2.0 is more of an improvement than a complete overhaul."
The museum has seen that stream of feedback and responded.
“Here at the Cleveland Museum of Art, we are committed to audiences of all ages, and remain deeply committed to children, families and to bringing them together to explore and discover art,” Caroline Guscott, director of communications explains. “The Studio Play section of the museum’s Gallery One is being renovated and will enhance the art experience for that important audience. The space will still be one for families to relax with books on comfortable furniture and will feature immersive family-centered activities and opportunities for parents to exercise creativity with young children. The new space builds on the same educational philosophy as Studio Play in an exciting and relevant way. It will allow visitors of all ages to closely examine art through kinetic movement and visitors will be able to create their own artworks using inspiration from our collection, and engage together to discover the details that make art enjoyable and memorable.”
Additionally, the museum reminded its patrons that it will continue to offer family programming, including Family Game Night, Second Sundays Family Days, Stroller Tours and Art Stories. Every Thursday at 10:30 a.m., stop by the CMA's Classroom B for Art Stories, a free story time for children, ages 2 to 5, and their grownups. Register by calling 216-421-7350 since the space is limited. Visit Clevelandart.org for more information. (Commenters pointed out the Studio Play area was open during regular museum hours whereas Second Sundays are limited engagement.)
Replying to the outrage on social media, the CMA stated, “We see the renovation of Studio Play as an opportunity to make something good even better for all audiences, and we couldn’t be more excited about the re-imagined space…The space will reopen to the public May 27 with dynamic new interactive games and activities for all ages that will preserve the best of what Studio Play had to offer and enhance it in a new, exciting and relevant way. During this time, the rest of Gallery One remains open…We encourage you to visit CMA’s Facebook page and Twitter feed for regular updates on the new space and the exciting activities that you will be able to share with your children when it reopens in May. Thank you again for your feedback.”
The May 27 reopening will be in time for the museum’s Official Birthday Party on Tuesday, Jun. 7 and Centennial Festival Weekend, Saturday, Jun. 25 and Sunday Jun. 26. However, it should be noted now that Gallery One will close next year from January to March for a complete redesign. The 12,000 sq. ft. interactive exhibition space opened in early 2013 next to the 39,000 sq. ft. glass enclosed atrium – both part of the CMA’s approximately $330 million renovation and expansion.