LACMA has a long tradition of creating exhibitions specifically for children and families. When we opened the Boone Children’s Gallery in 1998, it was an experiment that proved to be a godsend to parents all over Los Angeles. Through the generous support of George and MaryLou Boone, the gallery became highly acclaimed as an interactive art space for kids.
With this experience in mind, in 2007 LACMA embraced the opportunity to create an exhibition for children and families at Charles White Elementary School (formerly the original site of Otis College). This was part of a larger education initiative with the schools and libraries in LAUSD District 4, begun in 2006 and funded by an extraordinary endowment from a former trustee, the late Anna Bing Arnold.
The opportunity to use the former Otis College gallery space that was left intact when LAUSD turned the site into an elementary school was unprecedented. We chose artists Mark Bradford and Ruben Ochoa and embarked on a journey that included the creation of new artwork by them, the installation of work from the museum’s collection, and the opportunity for young children to interact with two amazing artists. It was a collaboration that presented all kinds of challenges: the sign painter they hired got locked into the school and had to call me and the principal to be let out at midnight—on several occasions; the artwork they created couldn’t fit through the door; and we had soccer balls flying toward us as we came in and out of the gallery.
For LACMA and the children who go to Charles White, this was the beginning of a tradition and the creation of lasting memories, and in the process we’ve invented another space for parents to take their children to experience art.
Jane Burrell, Vice President of Education and Public Programs