A group of 25 students undergoes workshops to curate first exhibition for the children's museum at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya
Children discuss the discus-throwing Townley Discobolus sculpture with Bilwa Kulkarni during the workshop. Pic/Bipin Kokate
On a sunny Saturday afternoon, a group of kids in the age group of eight to 13 pose a barrage of questions to education officer Bilwa Kulkarni about the Townley Discobolus sculpture. The piece is an example selected for a workshop on writing the labels for the first exhibition at the children's museum Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS). The exhibition is likely to open in October.
On July 12, mid-day had first reported about Mumbai's first children's museum, a project for children by children, supported by Bank of America. The bright young minds at the workshop are among the 25 young curators selected from 240 entries for an art competition and 178 for an essay competition conducted. 10 of them form the animation team being trained by Toon Club, a city-based company that specialises in getting children involved in animation.
Tehzeeb Khurana, creative head of Toon Club, helps the participants make animated presentations for the exhibition. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
Of the 15 members of the curatorial team, not all are present as they juggle their exams, school and classes along with these rigorous weekend workshops to help them curate the first show. The first two sets of workshops, conducted over two weekends in August, helped them understand objects, identify themes and segregate the artefacts.
"We had selected over 100 objects from the museum's collection based on five themes, which we didn't reveal to the kids. But they came up with their own unique themes and narrowed it down to 35 objects, which are all art-based [paintings, masks, puppets and sculptures]. It's admirable how they are independent thinkers. These workshops are a process of evolution for this exhibition; they are learning how exhibitions are made while they are making an exhibition," said Kulkarni.
Life skills for the kids
She added that the museum's curatorial team set out with the objective to avoid influencing the children's decisions, and instead just steer them in the right direction, so there are no factual errors. These workshops are also aimed to equip the kids with 21st-century problem-solving skills. During Saturday's workshop, the children deliberate on how to choose the right story among multiple facts, to present the object in the most interesting way. "Regardless of whether they become curators in the future, this experience will help them even if they want to become writers or get into advertising. As for the animation team, they are busy creating the backgrounds, the drawings, the script for the film that will show the curation process of the first exhibition, under the guidance of Tehzeeb Khurana, the founder of Toon Club. They will also be part of the shooting process," said Kulkarni.
Kulkarni tells us that the forthcoming workshops will delve into creating graphics, information panels and posters. The final workshops will discuss the use of display and installation to help the flow of stories in the exhibition. These long workshops are conducted through fun exercises, such as a treasure hunt to spot different aspects of the making of an exhibition, which the children solved in 25 minutes, much to the surprise of the curators. "We don't get too technical but they have set the bar very high and are not afraid of curveballs. They are confident about their arguments, firm in their beliefs, and do not blindly accept what is offered to them. They are conscious of the fact that it's their decision, and they get along like a house on fire," Kulkarni summed up.
Mini curators say
8, Fazlani L'Academie Globale
'I am learning so much about art through sculptures and paintings. This experience will help me develop many skills, in my studies, and also help me decide what I want to become when I grow up. What I am learning now will help me in higher grades too''
13, Udyachal High School
'I have learnt how a curator works, and learnt essential values, such as teamwork and hard work, which we tend to ignore in our day-to-day lives. Whether or not I become a curator, this training will definitely help me to curate projects in life, should I decide to take it up'
12, LR & SM Vissanji Academy, Andheri
'This is something that I have never done before. Very few get a chance to do something like this, and I am happy that I got this opportunity. I want to be a curator or an archaeologist when I grow up'
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