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Stories of Impact

Arts and Culture

Providing Cultural Opportunities to Underserved Families at the Detroit Institute of Arts

“We’ll be engaging families who might not be as comfortable at the museum. Any time an amazing cultural resource in the city can connect with parents and their young children, it's a positive for the community.”

Teri John, Director of Education Programs, Detroit Institute of Arts

In an effort to connect with young audiences and celebrate arts and culture, the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) hosts over 75,000 school-age children through programming each year. Families with young children are one of the museum’s target audiences, particularly those from traditionally underserved communities. However, throughout the DIA’s history, it has not launched an initiative with a specific focus on pre-school age children and their parents or guardians.

Funding from Walters Family Foundation will aid in the development of a ground-breaking new “DIA Head Start” program for toddlers ages three to five years. The museum will partner with the HighScope Educational Research Foundation to design and launch this initiative, serving families who live in high-poverty areas. The program will consist of three 45-minute gallery experiences that engage pre-school children and their parents with the DIA’s collection. It will pilot in the fall of 2018 and continue for two additional school years.

“The goal is to give young children a really positive experience at the museum,” says Teri John. “But even more importantly, it will help parents learn how to engage with their kids in the museum so they’ll feel comfortable coming back again.”

Research has shown that children who have art experiences in family groups experience life-time engagement with arts and culture. Through this innovative initiative, the DIA will provide cultural access and experiences for young children that will help them reach their full potential.