Media Design School pitches in on a kids club for the Auckland Art Gallery

Earlier this year, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki briefed our Bachelor of Media Design students on plans for a new Gallery membership programme for children. Under the guidance of lecturers Don Chooi, Lucy Boerman and Simon Nicholls, students were put into groups to work on conceptualising the brief.

Galleries can be perceived as contemplative spaces that predominantly cater to adult audiences – a perception that can create barriers to the engagement of younger audiences. Auckland Art Gallery’s plans for a new ‘kids club’ membership option is, therefore, an opportunity for children to engage with art in a way that is designed just for them.

Specific goals of the brief included coming up with a name for the club that would appeal to children and adults alike, creating a welcome pack, designing a rewards system to stimulate continued engagement, and developing a tool to educate children in a fun way on how to behave in an art gallery.

Media Design School were very excited to work with such a brief. Don Chooi, a lecturer in the Department of Media Design, shares his thoughts.

“Working on a student design project with Auckland Art Gallery has been an incredible experience – for the students themselves and for us, the faculty. It reveals how important it is for our students to be exposed to the industry, and the ways and manner in which it operates. Through mentorship and guidance, our students are able to negotiate their way in approaching and interpreting a creative brief. What better way than collaborating with the Gallery to work on a project that gives focus to the creative experience and, ultimately, provides a design-led solution?”

“The value for the students is immeasurable as they experience a real-world design brief. From concept to execution, the students work collaboratively and in a studio environment. Coupled with mentorship and critique, led by the faculty and Auckland Art Gallery, the design-led solutions they generated are something of which the students can be proud and take into their portfolio.”

In total, there have been 11 groups of students working on the brief, each of them crafting their own unique take on the kids club. There have been onsite visits, pitch after pitch, 'aha' moments, and everything in-between. Auckland Art Gallery’s Public Programme Manager, Johnny Hui reflects on the experience.

“This project has provided tremendous insight to the thoughts of the next generation of creators and leaders. It’s been fascinating to see the way they think about the development of tools to engage young audiences, and amazing to experience their passion and desire to learn about Auckland Art Gallery and our audiences. We hope that this experience provided a meaningful opportunity for Media Design School students to engage with a real client and that it will have sparked their interest and curiosity to pursue further creative paths in the museum and galleries sector. We’d like to acknowledge the Media Design lecturers for their support and collaboration on this exciting project.”

The student groups gathered at Auckland Art Gallery last Friday to give their final presentations, but they’ll have to wait a few weeks to hear if any of their ideas will be implemented in the Gallery’s future kids club.