NORMAN — By Caitlin Schudalla
The Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art opens its doors to members of all ages with interactive programs and activities throughout the year, but even among a plethora of educational themes and age groups, Family Days stand out as a special occasion for adults and their children.
“We have a lot of students visit the museum on school trips but this is an opportunity for school-aged children to visit with their parents and siblings, feel ownership of the museum and show family members what they learn here,” FJJMA Curator of School and Family Programs Karen McWilliams said.
The museum’s next Family Day is 1-4 p.m. May 19 and centers on the museum’s current exhibition “Art Interrupted: Advancing American Art and the Politics of Cultural Diplomacy.” Family Day is free of charge.
Hands-on art activities inspired by works in the collection will be the main attraction for younger guests, and provided printed gallery guides for parents and older children will offer insight on works’ history.
“We want to make the collection accessible,” McWilliams said. “Looking at modern art itself we intend to make it fun for the kids to look at how artists experiment with new styles.”
“Art Interrupted” is a collection of modernist paintings from 1940s American artists, intended to showcase American contemporary talent fostered by freedom of speech. Driven by an anti-Communist agenda, the project was halted when President Harry S. Truman and the U.S. Congress deemed it “un-American.”
“A lot of the information in this collection is political and adult-oriented but the idea is to show off what was cutting edge art at that time,” McWilliams said. “These works may not look shocking to us today, but this was very cutting edge for its day and documents American artists really getting into abstract art and trying new material for the first time.”
Art supplies for the hands-on activities are provided by the Kirkpatrick Family Fund, and though the activity is designed for the museum’s younger guests, all family members are invited to participate and encourage their young artists’ creative process.
“The fun thing about Family Day is seeing kids bring their older family members and witnessing them get the whole family involved. It’s what the event is about — students visiting with family, feeling ownership of the museum and making museum visits a part of their own creative process rather than just being spectators,” McWilliams said.
The Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art is located at 555 Elm Ave. Admission is free through the generous support of the University of Oklahoma Office of the President and the OU Athletics Department. For more information call 405-325-3272 or visit ou.edu/fjjma.