On Tuesday, October 24, 2006, Dia Art Foundation launches Dia:Beacon Kids’ Day, a special art-education program created in collaboration with the National Endowment for the Arts. The program, which takes place at Dia:Beacon, Dia Art Foundation’s museum in the Hudson Valley, is inaugurated with support and funding from the NEA and its chairman, Dana Gioia, and highlights the importance of art education.
Over the course of a one-month period, Dia:Beacon Kids’ Day will bring 1,000 middle-school children to Dia:Beacon to engage directly with contemporary art. Enrolled in schools across New York State, the children will travel to the museum by Metro-North train and by bus. Some 500 students from Albany, Beacon, Newburgh, and New York City will attend the day-long inaugural event; an additional 500 will participate in two subsequent events.
Special guests for the inaugural Dia:Beacon Kids’ Day include Mr. Gioia, Dia Art Foundation Chairman Nathalie de Gunzburg, and Mayor of Beacon Clara Lou Gould, among others. They will participate in a press conference from 11:30 a.m. until 12:15 pm, and will then be invited to observe students as they take part in the program, led by Dia-trained art educators and visiting artists who have participated in Dia:Beacon’s Arts Education Program.
Since its opening in 2003, Dia:Beacon, Riggio Galleries, which presents Dia Art Foundation’s distinguished collection of art from the 1960s to the present, has become a model of contemporary-art education for both children and adults. The museum is an integral part of its larger community, serving schools throughout Dutchess County and beyond.
NEA Chairman Dana Gioia states, “The arts allow us to experience the full range of our humanity. Without the arts, we live impoverished lives. Without arts education, we are not giving our children every advantage to explore the full potential of their lives. By bringing children into the museum, the NEA and the Dia Art Foundation are opening a door to a world of endless possibilities.”
Nathalie de Gunzburg, Chairman of Dia Art Foundation, states, “Dia Art Foundation is grateful to the National Endowment for the Arts for its support for Dia:Beacon Kids’ Day. Through this event we hope not only to reach out to students throughout New York State and provide access to Dia:Beacon’s collection, but also to promote the very important role art can play in the lives of young people today. Through Dia’s arts-education programs, we engage kids in stimulating discussions that provide a way into the work, both visually and conceptually, while simultaneously developing their critical thinking and verbal skills.”
Dia:Beacon Kids’ Day
Dia:Beacon Kids’ Day is designed to help students and their teachers experience, enjoy, and engage with the contemporary art on view at Dia:Beacon. Over the course of their day at the museum, small groups of ten to fifteen students will participate in forty-five-minute guided tours of the galleries, followed by a special activity related to the work of a single artist. Activities will be based on the new Dia publication 22 Questions. Created with the support of Louise and Leonard Riggio and the NEA, this illustrated publication inspires critical thinking by posing thought-provoking questions about individual works of art. Each student and teacher will receive a copy of 22 Questions following his or her visit.
Dia:Beacon Kids’ Day activities will focus on thinking about, describing, and discussing specific works of art and their relationship to the environments in which they are displayed, an issue especially germane to the works on view at Dia:Beacon.
For example, in the gallery devoted to the work of Fred Sandback, who used lengths of yarn to delineate the outlines of geometric forms, the docent will read a text that the artist wrote for children, in which he stated that in creating his work he played Cat’s Cradle in space. The students will then play the game themselves, and discuss such questions as, “Can you make a sculpture with no inside?” and “Can sculpture be a silhouette?”
In the gallery that contains Richard Serra’s Torqued Ellipses, the students will walk through the large-scale sculptures. They will then re-enact that experience in the open gallery space, discussing such issues as perception and memory of space. In the Robert Ryman gallery, the docent will read a poem that represents an attempt to write a poem about nothing, proving that it cannot be done, and then discusses those issues in relation to Mr. Ryman’s deceptively simple white paintings.
Dia:Beacon, Riggio Galleries
Dia:Beacon presents a distinguished collection of art from the 1960s to the present. Situated on the banks of the Hudson River in Beacon, New York, approximately 60 miles north of New York City, the museum occupies a former Nabisco box-printing facility, which was renovated by Dia with artist Robert Irwin and architect OpenOffice.
Dia:Beacon’s expansive galleries, which are illuminated by natural light, house works by a focused group of some of the most significant artists of the last half-century. Programming at the museum includes year-long temporary exhibitions as well as public programs designed to complement the collection and exhibitions.
Dia’s flagship Arts Education Program (AEP) offers students in the City of Beacon school district a supplementary arts curriculum providing opportunities for in-depth, structured explorations at three specific points in each student’s education. Students at the elementary-, middle-, and high-school levels interact directly with works on view, participating in specially designed activities that relate to aspects of their own school curricula. Launched in 2001 as a long-term collaboration between Dia and the Beacon city schools, the program makes Dia’s collection and the museum a resource for area students and their teachers and families. Since its inception, the AEP has expanded beyond the city of Beacon school initiatives to encompass all levels of education, partnerships with local cultural and educational organizations, a series of professional-development workshops, and the implementation of an education resource website.
NEA Arts Education
Since its inception in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts has not only maintained support for arts education programs in and outside of schools, but has also provided leadership in the federal sector and among arts, education, business, and government organizations to develop and sustain an agenda for the improvement of arts education. The agency has led efforts to make the arts a part of core education for all pre-K through grade 12 students and to increase opportunities outside of school settings for other arts learning. In 2005, the NEA awarded more than $13 million to support Learning in the Arts and arts education projects, of which Dia:Beacon Kids’ Day is an example.
Dia Art Foundation
Dia Art Foundation was founded in 1974. A nonprofit institution, Dia is internationally renowned for initiating, supporting, presenting, and preserving art projects. Dia presents public programs and its permanent collection of works from the 1960s through the present at Dia:Beacon, Riggio Galleries, in New York’s Hudson Valley. Dia has also proposed a plan to relocate its contemporary exhibition program in New York City to a new facility located at the future entrance to the High Line public park in downtown Manhattan. Additionally, the foundation maintains long-term, site-specific projects in the western United States, in New York City, and on Long Island.
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For additional information or materials contact:
Press Department, Dia Art Foundation, firstname.lastname@example.org or 212 293 5518