Connecting Kids with Art

Discover engaging programs for kids and families at the Dayton Art Institute.

The Dayton Art Institute (DAI) offers even the youngest members of our community ways to engage with the art world. The Lange Family Experiencenter, an interactive art gallery for all ages, provides informal learning opportunities for children and their caregivers, encouraging families to interact with art and learn together. 

“As an education team, we understand that children often learn best through hands-on engagement. By having a gallery dedicated to interaction, we allow children to be active participants in their experience at the DAI as they can play, make and rest during their time at the museum,” shares Matthew Boyd, museum educator.

The DAI offers a program called Tiny Thursdays that is geared directly toward children ages two to five and their caregivers. The program includes story time, a gallery visit and an artmaking project. 

“I think the biggest misconception about kids and art museums is that it’s not meant for them or that they will not understand the subjects. Some of the most interesting and meaningful art conversations I have ever had have come from engaging with students,” explains Matthew.

Community and school tours of the collection gallery, classes, workshops, and a wide range of programs for families, children, and youth are offered by DAI. Open to all ages and all levels of artistic ability, the ARTventures program explores the artistic processes of a highlighted artwork in the museum’s collection and guides participants in making their very own art projects. Some examples include creating a unique pottery sculpture or making a 3D poster. Those looking for a more immersive experience might look into summer art camps that are offered for children in the first through ninth grades.

“Some of our most unique opportunities are our Yeck Education Programs,” provides Matthew. 

The Yeck Artist-in-Residence (AiR) fellowship offers an opportunity for families and children to connect directly with an artist within the galleries, particularly in the Lange Family Experiencenter. There are also several scholarship and fellowship opportunities made possible by The Dorothy and Bill Yeck Endowment that allows the DAI to assist in the development of promising student artists ranging from middle school to college. 

There are so many ways for children to enjoy the DAI and the benefits that come along with engaging with art. The programs offered integrate elements from other disciplines, such as history, literature, science and technology. This interdisciplinary approach provides children with a well-rounded educational experience, fostering connections between different subjects.

“We like to think of ourselves as a leading interdisciplinary resource to our community that strives to promote critical thinking, close looking and practicing empathy through all our children's programs,” expresses Matthew. 

As a museum educator, Matthew has had a front-row seat to kids making connections and having aha moments in the museum. He recalled speaking to a group of third graders about the painting “View of Cincinnati” by Edward Beyer. 

“The moment the students understood that we were looking at an early image of Ohio you could see the wonder wash over their faces. Realizing how tough it must’ve been to build Cincinnati, the students then began to ponder about how Dayton might look in the future, and more importantly, what their role would be in creating it. It was a marvelous moment,” shares Matthew. 

The DAI offers the opportunity for kids to disconnect from everyday concerns and step into a different realm. “A day spent at the museum with young kids is a day spent making memories, sharing insights and building connections. While we pride ourselves on being educational, it’s also a place to recharge batteries and escape the world for a little bit too,” says Matthew.

For more information on all programs and events offered by the Dayton Art Institute, visit

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