Published January 27, 2020 by Bowdoin College Museum of Art

Family Saturdays

Young visitors enjoy a "Family Saturday" at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art during fall 2019.

Student Education Assistants Olivia Groell '22 and Brigita Kant '22 share their experience creating the monthly Family Saturday activities at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art.

As a student education assistant at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, my role includes giving tours, researching exhibitions, helping to plan student programming, and developing and carrying out Family Saturdays. In order to prepare for Family Saturdays this past fall, Olivia Groell and I started by discussing which pieces we like, and why. We then tried to pick activities that emulate the reason we appreciate a specific piece.

For the first half of the semester, our focus was on the Art Purposes exhibition. I spent two weeks researching the exhibitions, focusing specifically on pieces that interested me or caught my eye. After reading through the Art Purposes catalogue, going through the online collections database, and walking through the exhibitions, I then narrowed down the list of pieces by what would best fit our Family Saturday tour. Olivia and I planned the order of our tour and how we would break up the tour between us. Children responded very well to the pieces Northern Lights; Angel; Telephone; Composition Trouvée; Loves Me, Loves Me Not; Mrs. Viola Andrews-My Mother; Gumball Machine; and Double Cherry Blossoms. The children liked these pieces for their bright colors and sometimes interactive aspects (such as Telephone, where you can pick up the phone to listen to the audio). These pieces also attracted attention, and we were able to ask the children a lot of questions and discuss them in depth. For our first few tours, we had the children make miniature rugs, inspired by the bright color of Yanagi Yukinori’s Loves Me, Loves Me Not.

I learned different strategies for engaging children. One successful tactic was to try and make the pieces relatable. We often asked questions like “have you ever seen something like this?” or “would you ever do something like this?” Younger children responded very well to these kinds of questions. Older children preferred questions that pertained to the history or meaning behind the piece, such as “do you know what minimalism is?” Overall, asking questions seems to be the most successful method to engage with younger groups.

I found it important to be flexible and open-minded. Family Saturdays are open to all members of the community and are intended to be a welcoming space for those that visit the museum. Keeping an open mind is essential to encouraging open discussion and collaboration about the art we see. Family Saturdays have taught me how to become better at communicating and facilitating ideas to younger children and their families. I hope to continue thinking critically about works of art in order to create engaging questions and themes for our visitors.


Brigita Kant ’22, Student Education Assistant


At the beginning of the Fall 2019 semester, Brigita Kant and I began preparing for our Family Saturday programming by extensively familiarizing ourselves with the Art Purposes exhibition. Individually, I researched the works I was particularly interested in, with the idea in mind that I would be presenting several of them to children. While reading the Art Purposes exhibition catalogue, I began to plan out summaries of the pieces I liked and developed topics of discussion for visitor engagement. Along with crafting questions to ask children and their parents or guardians, Gita and I worked alongside our supervisor, Elizabeth Humphrey, to plan our collaborative tours and activities. Following a brief tour, we worked with children to create small felt “rugs” with glued-on decorations, resembling the red carpet with brass chrysanthemum petals called Loves Me, Loves Me Not by Yukinori Yanagi, and scratch art, or etchings, reminiscent of the Gumball Machine piece by Wayne Thiebaud.


I thoroughly enjoy having thoughtful conversations with young people and their parents in the galleries, especially captivating the children’s imagination and curiosity for art. I also appreciate the opportunity to create artwork with the children and their family members, as it allowed them to demonstrate what they learned after looking at art. It was also pleasant to get to know the families and welcome community members into the museum. As Art Purposes has now been taken down and new exhibitions are installed, we are now in the process of designing a new Family Saturday tour and activity. Please join us for upcoming Family Saturdays on February 8, March 28, and April 18.


Olivia Groell ’22, Student Education Assistant