Students engage in artwork, history and culture with world-renowned The Met
This story is part of a monthly series that highlights fantastic partners in our Flipgrid Discovery Library. Stories by Angela Tewalt.
When Skyla Choi comes to work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, she likes to visit the Water Stone most of all, a small Japanese-inspired stone fountain created by American-born sculptor Isamu Noguchi.
As one of the last sculptures he created in 1986, water emerges nearly invisibly from a dark basalt rock and into a fountain bed made up of light stones from the Isuzu River in Japan. It’s also one of the few kinetic objects in the entire museum – an opportunity for passers-by like Skyla to find some calm in the trickling water sounds.
“The Asian art gallery of the museum is always really busy, like a condensed version of New York City,” says Skyla, who began at The Met as an intern four years ago and now works as a studio manager today. “All around you, people are walking and talking, phones are going off and tours are going on in adjacent galleries.
“But when you walk by the Water Stone, you get a moment of serenity – you have to pause and just connect and breathe with it for a little bit, and it is so special.”
As part of her work today, Skyla helps to build MetKids, a beautiful, thoughtfully-curated digital feature that gives families anywhere in the world that same kind of sensory experience with the thousands of other calming works on display at The Met.
With a hand-drawn interactive map, instructional videos, fun facts about art and projects to try at home, MetKids is inspired by and created alongside 7- to 12-year-olds eager to learn, explore, tell stories and create.
“Whether it’s with school, their parents or babysitters, there are so many kids in the building all the time,” Skyla says. “So we wanted to create a program that made the museum a welcoming, comfortable place for children. We want kids to look at the artworks and feel empowered to talk about whatever they are seeing!”
Over a year ago, The Met was one of the first organizations to partner with our Discovery Library, bringing the intimacy and nobility of a 150-year-old museum to classrooms and dinner tables around the world.
Today, The Met has brought over its MetKids content to create more than 120 Topics in Flipgrid, featuring stories of infamous portraits and sculptures that spark a newfound compassion for history.
Students worldwide have spent over 300 hours of their time learning about mummies, “lucky dragons” in Asia, parades in Babylon and Judy Garland’s rainbow shoes.
And they’re learning something new. Whether they’ve taken pictures on the grand staircase with their families or have only heard of the museum from afar, educators and students are participating in a century-old tradition of honoring time and cultures, and they’re reveling in the exploration. Art introduces itself to everyone differently, but it can intrigue us all.
“Traditionally, The Met has a reputation of being an austere institution that was only meant for people who have art history knowledge,” Skyla says, “but our digital content has the opportunity to reach people beyond our walls, and our audience is so curious!
“Every visitor comes to see their favorite artwork like they are visiting a best friend, and we can track that kind of popularity and then tell stories and launch videos based on those interests. Our audience is so eager to learn about more than just what they see.”