Art and Children – A New Art Museum Brings Them Together

Art and Children – A New Art Museum Brings Them Together

At the new Museum of Northern California Art (monca) on the Esplanade in Chico, children and children’s programs are an important part of our community outreach.

When families and children think of their ABCs, they think of school, the alphabet, getting together with old and new friends, teachers, blackboards, books, laughing, playing, and learning.

We look at the ABCs a bit differently at monca: we look them as a way for Art to Build Community. By creating vital educational programs for children, monca hopes to build a better quality of life for them and everyone in the community. The goal is to be more than just a place with art hanging on the walls. It is to be a place where people can interact with art and each other.

Since its debut in the former Veterans Memorial Hall on the Esplanade, monca has become the cultural hub of Chico, inspiring people of all ages to experience and create art while engaging them in world-class art works, including: paintings, prints, drawings, sculpture, photography, and more from nearly 100 artists in Northern California.

Reaching Out To Children
Here are some of the ways monca has reached out to area children:

Explorer’s Faire
This past January, monca participated in the Glenn County Eighth Grade Explorer’s Faire. The event was held at the fairgrounds in Orland, where more than 400 students from surrounding school districts were introduced to the museum.

Outings with Artists
With funding from a grant from the city of Chico, we take students from area schools into an artist’s studio for a day where there is a tour of the artist’s studio and conversation about art as a career, followed by lunch.

During one session with local artist Dylan Tellesen, the students were encouraged to actively participate in a wall mural at the CSU Graduate studios. monca continues to find new and exciting ways to expand these programs.

Field Trips to the Museum
Field trips are encouraged. Students are taken on a guided tour of the space and the exhibition before spending time creating art work of their own.

Last December, Sheri Simons brought her CSU drawing students on one of these tours. “Today I took a group of drawing students to an extraordinary museum. We did not drive our usual three-hour field trip route to San Francisco. Instead, we walked ten minutes to monca where my students spent the next two hours working on drawings. In response to the James Kuiper exhibition, we came away with the valuable experience of sitting in an inspiring space, looking at original artwork, and being welcomed by a knowledgeable staff of people who love what they are doing and the place they have created. monca is a gem in the arts and education community.”

The monca School Bus Brings Art to Classrooms…and Beyond
In our first year as a new organization, we purchased a small school bus and created the Mobile Museum. This Educational Outreach program takes Driving Docents into primarily third grade classrooms, but the lesson can be adjusted for any grade.

Through this investment, our volunteer Driving Docents can bring original art and creative activities to all kinds of venues, including: schools, senior centers, kids clubs, homeless shelters, juvenile halls, and community events. We strive to educate the public about both northern California art and the museum itself, with a special emphasis on reaching out to communities that have been typically under served by arts nonprofits.

Supporting Families in Need with Art Activities
Through another grant by the city of Chico, monca is able to support families in need with ongoing art activities at the museum. Recently, participants enjoyed creating masks, inspired by artwork featured during the James Kuiper exhibition.

In addition, as a way for area arts educators to become familiar with what the museum can offer them and their students, monca held a reception in December where they had the opportunity to meet fellow educators, artists, and members of the monca board of directors.
All of the above activities and more are available to children throughout northern California. Please call the museum at 530-487-7272 or email us at for more information.

By Rodger Helwig

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