Friday June 3, 2016
Tags for: Studio Play Reopens June 7, 2016
  • Press Release

Studio Play Reopens June 7, 2016

exterior of the CMA building

Refreshed family space stimulates creativity and ignites the desire for fun and memorable experiences with art

CLEVELAND, OH — The Cleveland Museum of Art has announced the reopening of Studio Play, an interactive space offering families with young children dynamic and engaging activities to introduce them to the museum’s collection and help build a foundation for visual literacy.  

“Studio Play will use innovative approaches to enrich the experience of families, helping them to hone three important skills: observation, creativity and play,” said William M. Griswold, museum director. “The Studio Play team went back to the essential questions of art and learning.  What are ways to help families connect to the collection?  How do people learn?  How do you build authentic connections to art? ”

A dynamic component of the museum’s world-renowned Gallery One, which opened three years ago, Studio Play has been redesigned in response to audience priorities. The new space fosters social engagement and generates opportunities for play, creativity and experimentation. Cutting-edge interactives allow visitors to explore works in the collection through close looking and investigation of color, line, composition and other aspects of art. In the new Studio Play, visitors engage in informal collaboration to create meaningful interactions that delight and lead to a greater understanding of the museum’s collection.

“Studio Play felt like a perfect opportunity to introduce children to art and techniques in playful ways that felt natural and true to form,” said Jane Alexander, chief information officer for the Cleveland Museum of Art.

“Parents often feel like they need to have certain knowledge to explore the galleries with their children,” said Seema Rao, director of Intergenerational Learning. “Studio Play’s discovery sensibility dispels the idea that you have to possess prior knowledge—or that you need to ‘get it’—to enjoy art or a museum visit.  In Studio Play, kids are in the driver’s seat—showing their parents how it’s done.” 

The refreshed Studio Play, coupled with the museum’s ArtLens 2.0 app and its original Gallery One, represent an equal partnership among the museum’s information management and technology services (IMTS), curatorial, education and interpretation, architecture and design and collections management departments. The project-development process, noteworthy for its collaborative approach to the design of the space and interactives, was guided by Alexander. 

The museum partnered with award-winning consultants Design I/O, a creative studio in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with more than 15 years of experience specializing in the design and development of cutting-edge, immersive, interactive installations. The redesigned Studio Play uses digital strategies to enable visitors to explore some of the fundamental aspects of art through movement and play.

New Studio Play features include:

Create Studio: 

Create Studio is a place for visitors to unleash their inner artist. The interactives in the Create Studio build on the museum’s 100 years of experience in studio-based programming, including the well-loved offerings of Museum Art Classes and Second Sundays. Visitors consistently comment on the ways that their own creativity helps them build a deeper understanding of the collection. 

Create Studio offers four different ways to make artwork in a space resembling an artist’s studio. The installations use a combination of time-of-flight depth cameras, custom C++ software and real-time graphics to create interactive experiences that allow visitors to play with traditional artistic techniques, in a playful, gesture-based way. Visitors may save creations by sharing them on the museum’s Tumblr site or posting on social media #StudioPlay.

  • Portrait Maker: This interactive allows visitors to craft their likeness in the style of the portraits that line the walls of the museum. Choose from oil, charcoal or watercolor to create a self-portrait that is realistic or abstract.
  • Pottery Wheel: A spinning block of clay is molded into shape as visitors mimic a potter’s movements at a wheel. Using depth-tracking cameras, this interactive magically recreates the experience of a potter at the wheel. The intensity of the participants’ gestures changes the width of their vessels. 
  • Collage Maker: With a snip and a clip, visitors are able to create collages using a wide variety of images from the museum collection. Pair, enlarge, rotate and duplicate details from a favorite modern painting with scenery from masterworks by medieval artists to create something new and unique.  
  • Paint Play: Using motion-tracking technology, a “painting” is created through the visitor’s arm and hand movements. Just like using an actual brush and paint, broad gestures result in a wider paint splatter while smaller gestures create areas of more concentrated color. 

Reveal and Zoom: 
Reveal and Zoom engage visitors in two different methods of investigating the collection. Reveal encourages visitors to consider composition first before details come into focus, while Zoom invites visitors to explore details closely. Reveal and Zoom alternate on a 4K interactive video wall that uses the body as a tool to explore masterworks from the museum’s collection using innovative motion-tracking technology. In Reveal, a larger-than-life-size image is at first blurry, but visitors’ movements, individually or in groups, bring the artwork into sharp focus. Sweeping gestures bring about subtle changes to the image, while smaller, focused movement extracts finer details. The process continues until the object is entirely “revealed.” With Zoom, the visitor’s body acts as a magnifying glass. Using body movement, participants can examine every detail of a work of art, encouraging visitor-led investigation.

Line and Shape: 
This game, long a favorite of visitors to Gallery One, has been enhanced and enlarged in this new iteration of Studio Play. Visitors draw lines and shapes on a large touch screen, and these simple forms are rapidly matched to one of over 7,000 works in the museum’s collection. Line and Shape highlights discovery, focusing on details of different works in the CMA’s extensive holdings.

Matching Game: 
Matching emphasizes the connection between visual and verbal literacy. Working against a ticking clock, visitors are asked to find artworks containing an everyday item, like a chair, as quickly as possible. In order to accommodate varied skill levels and ages, there are multiple levels of difficulty for this activity.

Memory Game: 
Modeled after the time-honored game, this interactive invites visitors to “flip over” different cards, two at a time, in order to make a match, challenging visitors to hone their visual memory skills. When two details from the same work of art are successfully matched, the entire image is revealed. Presented as a companion for the Matching Game, the Memory Game is a quick, easy and enjoyable way to introduce visitors to some of the immense variety of artwork in the museum. 

"For Studio Play, the Cleveland Museum of Art wanted to showcase completely new ways for children to interact with its collection and create art inspired from the masterworks on view in the galleries.  At Design I/O because we love to explore new and intuitive ways to use the body and gestures to interact with an installation; the collaboration was truly inspiring and resulted in some completely radical ways to explore art,” Theo Watson, Partner, Design I/O. 

The museum is committed to the needs of families and the refreshed Studio Play maintains the methodological framework of the original space, with family-focused active engagement and physical experiences designed to foster access to the collection and encourage art appreciation and visual literacy. To complement Studio Play, the museum also is in the process of identifying a second on-site location where families may relax and engage in artful play on their own schedule. More information will be available in the coming months.

Centennial Celebration

One hundred years ago the Cleveland Museum of Art opened its doors to the public. In 2016 the museum invites all audiences to celebrate its 100th anniversary, honoring the past and looking ahead to the future. Program highlights include special centennial exhibitions representing the creative genius of four continents, spanning ancient to contemporary art, as well as the presentation of extraordinary individual works of art on loan from top-tier institutions all over the world, and once-in-a-lifetime events and community programs.

For more information about centennial year events, visit

Contact the Museum's Media Relations Team:
(216) 707-2261