ArtsATL > Art+Design > Review: Creative play reigns supreme at the High’s new Greene Family Learning Gallery

Review: Creative play reigns supreme at the High’s new Greene Family Learning Gallery

The creative play spaces at the High Museum's new Greene Family Learning Gallery engage kids of all ages. (Photo by Lauren Leathers)

Like most kids, mine are easily entertained, but only for a short period of time. Ayden, at three years old, harnesses a curious spirit that keeps him constantly on the move, but Atlas, at one, has a more relaxed demeanor, preferring to examine new things in detail before moving on. The new family-friendly Greene Family Learning Gallery at the High Museum left each of these very different personalities satisfied. Even my partner seemed to turn into a child upon entering the colorful haven.

The recent architectural improvement of the High Museum, which opened to the public last month, has taken visitors by storm. ArtsATL reviewed the permanent collection in a positive light.

The latest remodeling of the family galleries, designed in collaboration with Roto design firm, is split into two rooms: CREATE and EXPERIENCE. Both spaces include activities for the entire family and quiet spaces, complete with an area specifically safety-proofed for infants and toddlers. The focus of the redesign was to provide a safe way to invite children into the world of art-making.

The Greene Family Learning Gallery’s CREATE space allows visitors to experiment with color. (CatMax Photography/High Museum of Art)

The new rooms feel more open and airy than before, with a sleek, modern aesthetic on children’s play that never sacrifices the interactive fun factor required of early learners. CREATE welcomes guests with a bright and accessible space designed to place families in the mindset of an artist by illuminating the creative process and showing how colors work together. Kids need a jumble of items to stay engaged, right? Wrong. I was immediately concerned about the lack of clutter in the CREATE space, but the boys jumped from the stroller and began touching everything they could get their fingers on.

The main wall provided bursts of color that followed body movements as the boys waved their arms, as if painting in the air. Glowing shapes in the toddler area switched color at the touch. The dream builder room provides a quiet space for children to relax on a lay-back bench, giving a view of a rotating projection of artworks from the High’s collection on the ceiling. Overall, CREATE effectively takes a sophisticated approach to family art activities.

Kids can interact with various art environments in the EXPERIENCE room. (CatMax Photography/High Museum of Art)

Across the hall, EXPERIENCE presents an interactive and immersive gallery that allows children to explore what art means more deeply, how it feels to engage with it and where it can take us. Of the two rooms, EXPERIENCE was definitely the crowd-pleaser for my kids.

All activities in the room seemed to immerse my children in a new landscape. Huge noodles hang from the wall and make sound at the touch, mimicking overgrown grass, evoking contemplation of the idea of scale in artwork. A sensory wall is coated with materials of intriguingly different textures, and a cavern in the corner engages visitors with a room of color. I’ve always known color can drive emotion, but it wasn’t until I was surreally submerged in a rainbow of pigments that I felt the true effects that color has over the human mind.

Overall, the children’s gallery reinstallation breathes new life into the world of creative play. The High Museum and Roto design provide a family experience that is engaging for parents and children alike to bond and share memories. The only challenger was trying to drag my kids (and partner) out of the gallery when it was time to leave.

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