Interactive Gallery, Ryan Learning Center
Step into a performance space, assemble a costume from abstract shapes, and invent ways to move inspired by sounds and designs.
The Interactive Gallery in the museum’s Ryan Learning Center is a place for creative play—a space where visitors of all ages are invited to experiment with artistic ideas, materials, and practices, and to respond creatively to the things they see, feel, and think about their experiences in the museum.
Visitors who have stepped into the Interactive Gallery over the last year will know that this space has hosted different types of participatory interactions. Drawing Room made space for people to engage with drawing as an interpretive act. Living Room encouraged visitors to contemplate and converse, inspired by the museum’s collection. Coloring Room was a celebration of hues and tones, engaging participants in hands-on explorations of color theory. This exhibition, Room to Move, is the first installation in the Ryan Learning Center that invites people to work together in movement-based creations.
The installation is inspired by performance art and connects to a number of notable happenings in the museum this year. One is Iterations, the Art Institute’s new series of contemporary performance commissions. Launched this past February, Iterations explores the range of practices in the world of performance art today. The series will continue over the next three years with artists activating various museum spaces, challenging both our understanding of those spaces and what a work of art can be.
This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus, the German art school founded by Walter Gropius. Bauhaus artists worked in a range of media and techniques—from painting and sculpture to textile design, graphic design, typography, architecture, and performance—and understood these different artistic disciplines as being equal and connected. Bauhaus performance artists often investigated the relationships between human movement, geometry, structure, and physical space.
While Room to Move connects to historical and contemporary performance practices, it is first and foremost a place for intergenerational creative play. You don’t need to know anything about performance art to enjoy dressing up and inventing new ways to move—but you may just discover how moving playful participation can be.
Image: A concept sketch by School of the Art Institute of Chicago undergraduate and exhibition design intern Juan Arango Palacios, who contributed to the development of the space’s design and interactive zones.