• An inviting collection of playful props and games for families to engage with as they choose whilst exploring galleries and museums. 
  • Demonstrated in evaluations to inspire creativity, it is fun for everyone and easy and flexible to use.

The PropsBox is special because: 

  • It invites families to discover and discuss their own unique ideas and connections. Children of all ages can lead their families around collections and exhibitions, sharing games and playful conversations.
  • Everyone can take part and share the experience. This isn’t just about the children or the adults, it’s something to share and play with together. No specialist knowledge or experience needed.
  • There is no wrong way to use a PropsBox. Families have fun playing with it together how and when they want to. They feel special and welcomed, stay longer and and come back sooner.

Each PropsBox contains a collection of objects and also Play Me, a compendium of games that they can play with the objects. Inspiration for the PropsBox came from the many families we met during our research project Children take the lead where the children showed us again and again how skilful they are at exploring and discovering the world through play.

It was developed by CCI artists Idit NathanTownley and Bradby and Helen Stratford.

Working in partnership with two leading contemporary art galleries in the Eastern Region (Wysing Arts Centre and Kettle’s Yard Gallery), CCI artists explored alongside groups of young researchers and their families over an 18month period. By inviting them to take the creative lead through a programme of workshops and linked events, we discovered the world of these contemporary art galleries as seen through their eyes.

Described by a Dad  as ‘stealth art appreciation’ the PropsBox has been enthusiastically welcomed by families and galleries alike:

We are able to be free with imagination and much more actively engaged

The PropsBox can be used at Kettle’s Yard Gallery and Wysing Arts Centre and is also a resource within other CCI projects.

An evaluation of the research programme is here and read the project diary here.

We are particularly excited about this project because it is such an interesting and innovative way of introducing both children and adults alike to contemporary art. There is a dearth of support materials to help people tackle contemporary art. Children are free from many of the hang-ups that limit adults' understanding of contemporary art and have the potential to be fantastic guides/leaders into this world. 

Sarah Campbell, Kettle’s Yard Gallery