cARTie: A Mobile Museum Experience

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cARTie bus driving on the road.Do you remember your first museum experience? One of the most exciting experiences a young child can have is a field trip. Getting on a bus and spending time in a place as magical as an art museum is an event long remembered, especially if it happens at an early age. 

Studies show that positive and prolonged early exposures to museum-based learning hold the potential to nurture critical and creative thinkers who may be more motivated to engage with the arts and make changes in their communities. Literature regarding the long-term effects of arts education also shows that positive arts involvement during adolescence is key to building the social and emotional skills necessary in the twenty-first century.

Unfortunately, the costs and logistics of museum field trips are prohibitive. Across our county, art museums report a steep drop in family visits and school tours because of the pandemic. In Connecticut, too, inequities around financial pressures also mean many children face steep challenges in building the critical and creative thinking dispositions necessary for their twenty-first-century success.

cARTie is a nonprofit organization designed to bridge inequities in education and arts access across the state of Connecticut. cARTie brings the museum field trip to schools, summer camps, and families directly. It reimagines the museum concept, deconstructs traditional models, and is committed to ensuring all Connecticut’s children feel represented and empowered to engage with the arts.

This past year, cARTie has traveled more than 3,000 miles to bring the art museum adventure to life for more than 1,130 young children. School leaders laud cARTie’s potential for exposing young children to mindfulness practices, critical thinking toolkits, and equity-focused mindsets. Children also exclaim, “it’s the cARTie bus” and “this is awesome” melodiously.

cARTie’s Co-Founders, Clare and Tish Murray, are long-time Connecticut residents and early childhood experts. Their mother-daughter relationship is a testament to the loving, nurturing nature of cARTie.

Clare, who serves as Executive Director, studies the benefits of museum field trips for young children as part of her doctorate in art and art education at Teachers College, Columbia University. From her review of research as well as evidence collected from cARTie’s pilot year of programming, Murray explains, “introducing young children to the art museum environment early and making sure they feel welcome and represented is laying the foundation for cultural engagement, civic engagement, and so much more,” Murray says. “We know our youngest years are some of our most formative, so it behooves us to get young kids excited by the learning potential of museums early.”

Whether it’s advocating to get cARTie to your child’s school and summer camp or letting cARTie develop a unique and personalized birthday party for your child, there are endless ways for you to make sure our youngest generation reaps the myriad benefits of developmentally-appropriate art museum-based education and fun. So get going and visit to learn more! Be sure to follow cARTie on Facebook and Instagram for inspiring content.

Clare Murray is a nonprofit art museum executive director, mixed media illustrator, and doctoral student in the Art and Art Education Department at Teachers College. Clare holds an MA in Art in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, an MEd in Early Childhood Education Policy from Teachers College, and a BA in Economics and Latin American Studies from Colby College. In 2018, Clare was awarded a Fulbright Predoctoral Research Grant to study the art educational programming of a network of independent cultural spaces in Spain. She has published work with economists in Spain and Maine and art education leaders like Ellen Winner. Across her work with cARTie, the nonprofit mobile art museum bus she co-founded and now leads, and her studies at Teachers College, Clare is committed to ensuring the arts the rightful place at the heart of early childhood. Working with young people brings Clare the greatest joy, and it is this joy, in tandem with her being so intimately involved in the visual arts, that makes it possible for Clare to work, study, and entertain her many hobbies outside, from teaching yoga to breaking bread and racing in long-distance swimming and running races. 


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