Tag: Center for Creativity

The New Wonder Room: Icing on the Cake


“Hi, what are you doing?” I whispered as I crouched, on hands and knees, under the treehouse.

“We’re imagining there’s a troll living up there in the treehouse,” Marina shared.  “We’re the elves.”

“Elves are nice,” added Pilar.

I smiled and joined in the creative play with Lorena and her two daughters Marina and Pilar.  Together we wondered about the ambiguous glass sculpture.  Is it a girl or boy?  Is it human or elfin?  We pretended to be mermaids climbing rocks; we stacked up piles of bamboo stones. And then, Lorena and the girls crawled away to spy on the “mean troll” living in the tree house.

The Wonder Room is back in business.

After five hectic weeks of demolition and transformation, the Wonder Room is open again. Chock-full of birds and bats, trees and mysterious creatures, this experimental gallery now flaunts a woodland theme with all new hands-on activities and an eclectic selection of art.  Curious visitors of all ages braved cold and ice to come out and play with us last month during the Wonder Room preview weeks.

Lorena and her two daughters played for hours.


Daniel, Susan, and Shirley also came to check it out.  When I met this trio, they were huddled around the tree stumps, contemplating their progress.  Their goal:  to build an arched branch — one that would span both tree stumps — using the large cardboard pieces.  Susan played the role of a human support beam while Daniel experimented with different pieces to make the structure sturdy.  Shirley offered advice from the sidelines.

As always, I relished chatting and collaborating with these and other CMA families.  As always, I observed and documented some of their conversations and actions.  As always, I looked for evidence of collaboration and creativity in action.

Situated in the very heart of the Center for Creativity, the Wonder Room is intentionally designed to foster and provoke creativity.  But creativity, we know, is like a gargantuan, multi-tiered cake; we don’t expect to take in the entire confection at one sitting.  Instead we pick away at the layers at different times in different ways.  The Wonder Room takes a big bite out of the tiers of curiosity, imagination, experimentation, and storytelling. 

To set the stage for these creative experiences, we made countless intentional design decisions to promote creative play – play inspired by unexpected discovery and exploration, play that allows for experimentation and mess-making, and play that is prompted by sharing stories, make-believe, and imaginings.

What I first noticed about Lorena and Daniel’s families is their intuitive and urgent drive to play – to invent, to explore, to experiment, to pretend.  From across the room I first watched as Lorena and her family crawled into the dark crevices under the treehouse, discovered the sleeping sculpture, and took off on their adventure.  From afar I watched Daniel, his mother and girlfriend, make bird nests, draw trees, and then, set out to build the marvelous arched tree.

For good reason, there are very few signs in the gallery currently.  I’ve learned that people don’t seem to notice signs in museums, so I spent the first few weeks watching and listening to determine what kind of signs visitors of all ages would need to encourage their creative play — to give them permission to play.

I admit that even I am surprised at how much imagining, experimenting, and storytelling has erupted spontaneously here already.  And for me, that is the icing on the cake.








How We Make Art in the CMA Center for Creativity

Summer Art Workshops 2013

As we head full steam ahead into the school year, I am taking some time to reflect on Summer Art Workshops (SAW), why they are awesome, and how we can infuse the same energy into our school year programs, such as our Studio Thinking workshops or Home School workshops.

As the Manager for Studio Initiatives here at CMA, I may be just a bit biased, but I sincerely believe that these workshops are really special. This is no accident.  We’ve been working for years to hone our vision around art-making here at CMA, and Summer Art Workshops exemplify a lot of the philosophies we hold dear.  So, here’s the quickie list of how we make art in the CMA Center for Creativity.

1.    Ideas come first.  These workshops aren’t about painting, building, or sewing. They are about creative thinking, imagination, play, risk-taking, and all that good stuff. However, learning new skills becomes necessary to turn creative ideas into reality. This means increased relevance and sense of purpose for everyone.
2.    Students and instructors as co-learners and artist collaborators. While ideal instructors are practicing artists, adept at a variety of media, expecting them to be an expert in everything is ridiculous. The best instructors are not afraid to take risks and learn with the students.
3.    Workshops allow for surprises and oddities. Our student artists have wonderful, weird ideas.  We try to structure our workshops in a manner to allow those ideas to unfold naturally, which can result in some hilarious results if we allow it (and we do).
4.    The world is our museum. Not only do we use the CMA galleries to provoke imagination and storytelling, but our workshops are inspired by the art of the everyday. From high fashion to haunted houses, anything can be fodder for creative exploration.
5.    The Center for Creativity is an excellent resource. Not only do we get a sunny Studio with a bright green floor and bunch of fun toys (spray booth, exposure unit, etc), we also have the Innovation Lab, our tech studio, with adjustable lighting, a projection screen and tons of useful technology (green screen, laptops). Having these resources means high quality programming.

Now that SAW is over (phew!), we’re gearing up for Doodles, Day of Play, Girl Scout Day, and a gazillion other programs involving art-making.  Whether the program is for families, scouts, homeschoolers, or a school field trip, we will try to construct each experience as playful co-creators, encouraging our student artists to experiment and think, just like real artists!

Art Speaks. Join the Conversation.

Susie Underwood, Manager for Studio Initiatives



Your LEGO® creation could be on display at the Columbus Museum of Art. Our 2013 LEGO® DESIGN CHALLENGE, presented by the Center for Creativity at the Columbus Museum of Art, is a design competition that promotes the creative and original use of LEGO® bricks. Design finalists will be exhibited at the Columbus Museum of Art November 8, 2013 – January 5, 2014 in conjunction with our Think Outside the Brick exhibition.  The competition is open to groups, families, teens, and kids. Click below for details on this year’s challenge.

2013 LEGO@ DESIGN CHALLENGE & Submission Details

Deadline for submissions: October 1, 2013

Adventure Out: Art Super Heroes

Adventure Out Celebration
May 5, 2012, 10 AM – 5 PM

What happens when art educators and a museum’s permanent collection intersect with preschoolers? Join us as we celebrate our Adventure Out program, an in-depth art program for preschoolers at OSU’s Schoenbaum Family Center in Weinland Park. In the galleries, experienced facilitators will guide playful conversations about Columbus Museum of Art’s collection. In the studio, families can participate in a special exploration project. Adventure Out is made possible by funding from JPMorgan Chase Foundation.


Summer Classes at CMA

Columbus Museum of Art Mythbusters Summer Art Workshop

Summer Art Workshops at CMA have begun, and the creativity of kids’ brains has certainly been on display. Periodically this week I’ve been popping in to check on the progress of our Mythbusters art class for first and second graders.

Over the course of the week, this enthusiastic and creative bunch of kids created Louise Nevelson like wood sculptures (their lesson on balance); Chihuly ‘glass’ projects where they melted plastic plates in a toaster oven to demonstrate how objects can go from solid to liquid to solid again; art ‘inventions’ (everything from a porcupine to a magnetic picker-upper as one girl described hers). They made and painted kites (and then flew them in the nearby Topiary Park). They acted as scientists drawing and inventing new creatures such as the dragonook, a fire breathing, flying, Tigger like dragon. They learned about force and electricity, magnets and speed, and created a roller coaster for ants made out of toothpicks and marshmallows.

But perhaps my favorite project was their project on volume and matter. Each student was given an empty box and recycled materials, and in true Aminah Robinson fashion they used everything they had (buttons, pearls, ribbons, yarn, wood, feathers…). The result: artful dream homes full of colorful lamps, swings, fireplaces, tunnels and bridges, even a lemon-scented TV.

Like the saying goes, there’s no place like home.

Art Speaks. Join the Conversation.

Jennifer Poleon, Digital Communications Manager