Coffee With….Luned Palmer, Instructor of Family Art Adventure at Montclair Art Museum

luned palmerWe took the kids to Montclair Art Museum’s new monthly program Family Art Adventure last month and we loved it. The hour-long, drop-in gallery program is for children 5 and up and their parents /caregivers. You walk through the museum together, explore and discuss art and do fun activities in MAM’s galleries and sculpture garden. Luned Palmer is the instructor who takes you on the adventure and she is wonderful with the families.

Barista Kids spoke with Luned to learn more about her and her plans for upcoming Family Art Adventures:

Barista Kids: Where are you from?
Luned Palmer: I’m originally from Newport, RI, which is a beautiful place to grow up, and has a vibrant art community. I went to college at Swarthmore, where I studied art, and after graduating moved out to San Francisco. In San Francisco I began my career as an art educator, teaching high school art, mural class and pre-K art.  I also taught at an after school program for 2nd grade and directed a science camp!

In 2010 I moved to Queens and began teaching at the Noguchi Museum. I moved to Bloomfield just 6 months ago, so I’m brand new to New Jersey. I live alongside a sweet little park in Bloomfield — a 20 minute bike ride away from the Montclair Art Museum. I have been delighted by everyone I have met here in Essex county and I’m finding that this is a really wonderful place to live.  

BK: When did you start working at MAM?
LP: My work at MAM is part of my masters program at Bank Street College, in Manhattan. I am only a few months away from obtaining my masters in Museum Education. The program has presented me with the fantastic opportunities. I’ve been able to work with MAM’s education director, Petra Pankow, to teach and to design Family Art Adventures, among other things.

I also teach at the Noguchi Museum, a beautiful, serene museum and garden nestled in industrial Long Island City. In the summers, I direct Curious Jane Camp at Oak Knoll in Summit.  Curious Jane is a camp where girls explore design, engineering, science and art.

Family Art Adventure

BK: What’s your art background?
LP: Art making was very important to my family, which is something I’m happy to be able to pass on through the Family Art Adventure program. It became so important to me that I went on to major in Studio Art in college. Since then I’ve had a couple of gallery shows (mostly in collage) and done some graphic design, but teaching art is my real passion. I’ve been teaching art in schools and alternative settings for about six years, and working in museums for three.

BK: Tell us how the idea for the Family Art Adventure program came to be.
LP: Family Art Adventures is the brainchild of Petra Pankow. Since she began at MAM over a year ago she has been working to strengthen the ties between the museum and the community. She recognized that Montclair families wanted a place to talk together, and also to get to know other families in their communities. MAM has programs for school groups, seniors, adults, teens, homeschool groups and others, but did not yet have a program specifically for families. When Petra and I met and I told her about my experience designing and leading family programs at The Noguchi Museum, she asked me to collaborate in creating this program and bringing it to life.

BK: What can families expect at the monthly event?
LP: Families can expect to explore and discuss artworks and engage in fun activities. This program is an opportunity to look closely and make discoveries. Engaging activities are meant to draw families into fascinating conversations where they can learn about the art, and also about each other. Because of the nature of family time in the museum, after family programs I’ve heard statements like: “I didn’t know my son/daughter was thinking on that level” or “s/he never says things like that at home.”

Family Art Adventure

BK: What are you goals for Family Art Adventure?
LP: My goals for Family Art Adventure align with my overarching goals as a museum educator: to create a welcoming, comfortable place where people can come together to talk about art.  I want visitors to feel a sense of ownership and empowerment when they enter the museum. I want them to feel heard, and also inspired. I imagine that as I continue to learn more about the participants, and what they want out of the program, the program will mature and change. I hope that through play and conversation we can learn together.

BK: How can parents encourage children to enjoy art, understand it and create it?
LP: Well the first step is to get on down to the museum and visit me at Family Art Adventures!

Really, I think that if you enjoy, understand and create art yourself, your children will as well. There is no substitute for good modelling. Pull out the markers and do some drawing yourself, immerse yourself in a painting, take your time and flex your imagination!  Also, though, I don’t think it’s essential to create, understand, or even enjoy art in order to visit the museum. Museum going is a social experience, and the museum can be a great space to relax as a family and take some time to talk.

Family Art Adventure is held at Montclair Art Museum the third Saturday of the month from 2 – 3 pm. (Next one is on April 19) The cost is $15 per non-member family and $6 per member family. 

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