'Stroller Tours' roll into Utah Museum of Contemporary Art

Published: Tuesday, March 4 2014 3:10 p.m. MST

Jared Steffensen, UMOCA Curator of Education, teaches a group of families during the Feb. 12 "Stroller Tours."

Sarina Ehrgott, Utah Museum of Contemporary Art

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Museum of Contemporary Art has introduced a program that allows parents and their young children to experience art in a safe environment. “Stroller Tours,” which began Feb. 12, are guided museum walk-throughs for families.

Located in downtown Salt Lake City, the museum is free and open to the public. Stroller Tours begin the second Wednesday of every month at 9:30 a.m. — before doors open for regular business hours.

The idea behind Stroller Tours is to allow parents and children to interact with contemporary art without feeling like they need to be silent or perfectly behaved in front of a more sophisticated audience.

Stroller Tours are the brainchild of two UMOCA employees: Curator of Education Jared Steffensen and Marketing Director Sarina Ehrgott.

“We both have kids,” Ehrgott said, “and we wanted to involve everyone in contemporary art.”

Steffensen and Ehrgott said they recognize challenges that can come with bringing small children to normally quiet environments.

“I’ve always brought my kids with me to the museum and never thought much about it,” Steffensen said. “Of course, I work at the museum. Sarina pointed out that there is this whole group of people that may never come to the museum because they fear judgment.”

As Steffensen guides the tours, he encourages discussion and interaction. Because the tours occur in an otherwise empty museum, visitors are free to ask questions and give input — no matter their age or the volume of their voice.

“We want to create a comfortable atmosphere,” Steffensen said. “Each person is getting their own experience at the same time.

You don’t have to be a contemporary art expert to enjoy the exhibits during Stroller Tours. Steffensen said the experience is perfect for beginners, because he gives background information and explains concepts behind the art.

The tours cater to their specific audience and usually last 30–40 minutes. While the youngest children sit in strollers and look at the colorful artwork, toddler-aged audiences are encouraged to take part in answering questions Steffensen asks the group. Following each tour is an age-appropriate art activity.

“I want people to enjoy contemporary art on their own terms,” Steffensen said.

The museum offers several extra programs to help interest children in art. Among them is “Family Art Saturday,” which is the second Saturday of each month. Family Art Saturday allows supervised children to view museum exhibits and create art based on a monthly project schedule. Project dates are at www.utahmoca.org/art-saturdays.

Registration for Strollers Tours is preferred. Those wishing to attend the March Stroller Tours should email jared.steffensen@utahmoca.org.

Email: kguderian@deseretnews.com

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