Thursday, July 11, 2013

You are Welcome Here

Beginning in July 2013, admission to the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver is FREE for anyone age 18 and under. We are so proud to be the first museum in Denver where children and teenagers can
visit free of charge. While there are many excellent programs in our city for schools and families, there are fewer programs directed at teenagers, and none that give every child free access to the museum, everyday.* With help from generous underwriting from the David & Laura Merage Foundation, we are able to make free admission a reality.

As museum professionals, we know the arts to be an important part of a well-rounded education. National research shows that young people with high-arts involvement are more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, stay in school and and remain civic minded throughout their lives. Contemporary art and teenagers are well aligned. Naturally rebellious, teenagers, like artists, are interested in challenging conventions and questioning the rules. It is our goal to make the museum a safe place for teens to express themselves while connecting with art and artists.

Free admission is an important part of this. For many of us at MCA Denver, we had personally identified a particularly meaningful moment in our own lives when we had come to love and embrace the arts. It was, in all cases, a time or place where we could come to a museum to experience the magic and wonder free of charge.

MCA Denver's 2012 Teen Failure Lab
Another important component of teen access is MCA Denver's Teen Failure Lab. Yes, you heard the name correctly. Failure Lab is a school year-long internship program for high school-aged teenagers, where teens meet and work with contemporary artists and museum professionals. Over the last three years, Program Manager Ama Mills-Robertson has grown the program from a small offering into a competitive program attracting high school students from throughout the Denver area. The program is so named because it provides a safe place for teenagers to experiment with art, take great risks and try out wild ideas. In essence, the program gives them the freedom to fail.

Teens in Failure Lab meet weekly throughout the school year to produce programs for other teens in the city and collaborate with artists to create new museum exhibitions. And now, when teens invite their friends, and their friends' friends, everyone can come through the doors of the museum for free. 

It's a small step, but it is one we are so proud to be taking. Thank you David & Laura Merage for making this possible.

*RedLine, the pioneering arts space in Downtown Denver founded by artist and philanthropist Laura Merage, is free for all people, everyday. Their mission defines the organization as a diverse urban laboratory where arts, education and community converge.

image: Teenager patrons at MCA Denver's Faux Stache party in 2012. Photo by Jenn LaVista. 
video: MCA Denver's Teen Council. Video by Kim Shively.