Children’s Museum of the Arts
Ph. (212) 274-0986
How many years have you been in business in NYC?
Kathleen Schnieder founded Children’s Museum of the Arts in 1988. It was located on Lafayette Street in SoHo until 2011, when it moved into its current space on Charlton Street in Hudson Square. Since then, CMA has served thousands of children and families, 27 percent free of charge.
How did you get your start and what was your initial inspiration?
CMA first opened on Lafayette Street in 1988 and served as a space to introduce children and their families to the transformative power of the arts by providing opportunities to make art-side-by-side with working artists. After outgrowing its first space, CMA moved to its current location where it continues this mission through a program of artist-led workshops and rotating contemporary art exhibitions. It also maintains a collection of more than 2,000 works by children from across the world dating back to the 1930s.
What do you feel differentiates you from others in your field?
Children’s Museum of the Arts provides a place for children to interact directly with practicing artists and contemporary artwork. We invite children and their families to LOOK at the artwork and discuss how it impacts them, MAKE their own artwork in response to their observations, and SHARE the work with their peers and families.
CMA offers workshops in a range of artistic practices including animation, sound editing, sculpture, painting, drawing, performance art and more. Its studios are specially designed for children, with a WEE Arts studio for ages mobile to 5 years, a Fine Arts Studio, Media Lab, Sound Booth, Gallery, and Clay Bar for clay sculpture. It is one of the only spaces in New York City where children have the opportunity to make art alongside practicing artists. It also has one of the most extensive collections of children’s artwork in the world.
What do you feel gives you longevity in this big city with so many options?
As new mediums and artistic practices emerge, CMA continues to evolve with the art world. Its programs, workshops and exhibitions are constantly changing and developing to the meet the interests of a contemporary audience. Each exhibition highlights work by both established and emerging artists and touches on topics relevant to today’s dialogue, such as technology, communication, personal identity, politics, gender, and culture. Visiting CMA is not only an enjoyable experience, but an educational experience as well, that families can remember and discuss long after their visit.
How do you positively impact your clientele?
Through Community Programs, the museum is able to provide arts education to underserved children. These programs serve children on the autism spectrum, those with physical disabilities, children living in transitional housing and families in the NYC child welfare system. By coming to CMA, parents and caregivers can take pride in the fact that they are not only providing a positive learning experience for their own children, they are helping to provide those opportunities to other children in the community as well.
What is your favorite part of your job?
The Teaching Artists, Educators, Visitor Services and Administrative staff are proud to help bring the transformative power of the arts to children. Many of the employees at CMA have a background in the arts and arts education and are excited to work alongside children to nurture the creativity present in all young artists. We get to see the positive impact of the arts firsthand, and get to interact with creative young minds every day.
What is your favorite secret NYC spot?
CMA’s Bridge Space is a unique part of the museum that visitors always love. It is a long hallway with round windows above the gallery, and for each exhibition, the museum invites an artist to create a site-specific installation in the space. Artists have come up with extremely creative uses for this space, including a psychedelic yarn tunnel, currently on view, a twisting kaleidoscope of rainbow colors, a geometric structure built from straws, and more! The next Bridge Space installation will open on May 31, and will be an intricate painting by Steed Taylor in the form of a tattoo, inscribed with messages from children of mutual courtesy and consideration.
How do you benefit mamas?
CMA offers mamas a space for them to introduce their children to art and learn about their own child’s potential for creativity. The museum offers hands-on learning opportunities for children as young as 10 months and as old as 15. With drop-off art camps, after school classes, early childhood art classes, teen groups, private lessons, and more, mamas have an abundance of ways to offer their children exposure to the arts.
What is the most memorable feedback a client has given you?
Several of our members and families who take classes at CMA have remarked that CMA is a second home to them. Here is one of our favorite testimonials “To say I LOVE this program is a huge understatement – it’s like a second home to my family and I can’t even begin to tell you how grateful we are to your museum. It is so unique and so beautiful and means so very much to my son.” – Parent of a student in our Inclusive Sunday program for children with physical disabilities
Pay it forward and name your top colleagues in the same field or related field:
The Whitney Museum is a neighbor of ours with youth programs that we love. Our Inclusive Programs have visited many times in the past to explore the works on display and participate in workshops with their education programs. We also love New York Botanical Garden and have partnered with them to create art workshops on May 15 and July 24 based around their Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas exhibition on view this summer.