The MoMu, a mobile museum for children

The MoMu or Mobile Museum is an initiative of the association “L’Art à l’enfance”, founded by Ingrid Brochard in 2010. This contemporary art enthusiast, who originally owned a cosmetics company, called in many artistic personalities in order to create a museum which goes directly towards children across the worlds, in places where art is most out of reach. The museum was conceived by architect Adam Kalkim and it takes the form of a truck which unfolds in a W-shaped platform. The museum holds a great collection of sculptures, videos and installations that were given by a worldwide selection of artists such as Daniel Buren, Paul Mc Carty, Maurizio Cattelan, Ghada Amer, Pierre Huyghe, Nari Ward, Florence Doléac, Chéri Samba, James Turrel and Eija-Liisa Ahtila.

Exploration of «Baisers», a sculpture by Ghada Amer

MoMu is not an academic area. It’s an interactive and fun museum that teachers and kids don’t visit at the same time. The initiation is led by Magalie, a specialized speaker, whom I interviewed to have a better understanding of the way the museum works.

How would you define the purpose of the mobile museum?
MoMu brings contemporary art to children who don’t have access to it. We travel to isolated places, where museums lack and contemporary art is unattainable. We tend to stop nearby schools, where we unfold the truck into a museum. It features four distinct spaces, in which children can dive to apprehend a whole different experience each time: paintings, sculptures, installations, videos, designs, etc…We receive classes one by one in order to handle smaller groups. In addition, teachers and truck drivers who accompany me can also enjoy the installations. To sum-up it’s about giving a direct access to contemporary art to people who are deprived of it.

How do you pick the pieces in order to sensitize the children to contemporary art?
The pieces were all given to the museum by reputed contemporary artists. The museum was conceived in conjunction with child psychiatrists in order to make it a safe and fun place. In addition, the museum adapts to the visited area and the collections are regularly renewed. For example, the Spanish tour, which will begin shortly, will feature exclusive pieces by Spanish artist Mickael Barcelo, so the kids can relate. During the first tour in Africa (Ivory Coast, Cameroon, etc.) a Chinese artist created a huge rhinoceros that was split in two in order to sensitize African children to ecology through the wildlife they know. 

Are the pieces presented in this museum bound by a common theme?
Ingrid Brochard proposed the theme “living together”, but of course showing art pieces to children involves other confines: like being fun and not too delicate.

How does the typical visit of the museum take place?
When the MoMu gets in touch with a school, the visits always involve one class at a time. The kids enter the museum without their teacher, and they are free to roam around the pieces. I lead them to think about those pieces and we discuss several themes together. I ask them what they feel in front of the pieces they see first, when they’re in front of those; I also speak about contemporary art, about what is a museum and of course about the artists who created those pieces. Then, the teachers get in the MoMu and are invited to download the informative folder from our website, in order to give rise to this experience. Eventually, we get in touch with an art center, an artists’ residence or a museum nearby and we encourage classes to go to these places in order to discover contemporary art in their neighborhood.

How do schools get in touch with the MoMu?
Thanks to word of mouth and the communication that the association and the media provide. Teachers are invited to contact us directly so we can meet. The service is entirely free because the association is financed by several sponsors. They just need the permission of the city hall. By the way, our next French tour will begin in February 2015 and we hope to be called by many classes.

 Photo studio, hosted by the  « Faux Amis » collective in Savins, June 2, 2014.

The MoMu’s website, which is linked below, presents each artist whose pieces are featured. It also lists tour projects for various countries. This museum is an amazing initiative which unlike some, doesn’t necessarily appeal to the most literate or privileged few. This one is moving and goes to meet young sensitivities. In addition, if you think about it, the specific “childish” form of art, which was repressed and restrained by the adults for a long time, has acquired a certain amount of recognition since the birth of contemporary art. I invite the reader to inquire about this project and teachers to get in touch with the MoMu in preparation for their next tours! http://www.musee-mobile.fr/index.html

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