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Please Touch the Art

New interactive Art Zone at VBMA encourages children to experience art with all five senses

Magnetic walls allow children to move elements to create their own designs, and chalkboard walls encourage drawing.

Magnetic walls allow children to move elements to create their own designs, and chalkboard walls encourage drawing.

Have you ever heard of an art gallery where “Touch” rather than “Do Not Touch” is the mandate? Well, in the new interactive Art Zone at the Vero Beach Museum of Art, that’s exactly what’s expected of all who enter. Children from just a few months to 12 years old can touch, play and learn. And in the process, they stimulate their creative thinking. The Art Zone encompasses 672 square feet of multi-sensory, hands-on activities that encourage children to play and explore using all five senses. 

Pamela Sommers, who manages youth and family programs at the museum, designed the space based on her own research, visits to other museums and focus groups she conducted with local families. Then with the help of a grant from the Hearst Foundations to renovate the gallery and a gift from Warren and Virginia Schwerin to support programming, the Art Zone opened in late January to the awe of children and their families.

“With attendance in our family programs tripling in the last two years, it was imperative that we create a family-friendly space where kids can connect with the art and exhibitions in the museum,” Sommers says. “When children are in the galleries looking at art, obviously they can’t touch, so in the Art Zone we are exposing children to art — in many cases specifically to the art in the museum’s galleries — and they are using all of their senses and their whole bodies for learning.”