Product Review of MetKids
MetKids is a kid-friendly gateway to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. The site features three major sections: “Map” lets users explore an interactive cartoon map of the Met, clicking red dots to learn more about the artwork and yellow dots to learn about visitor spaces in the museum. Each red dot lets users view a work of art in detail, and they can click “Listen” (to learn more about the work in a a child narrator’s voice), “Discover” (to read more background information), “Imagine” (to imagine what the artwork might mean more broadly in its original context and today), and “Create” (where kids can create their own art related to the work they’ve just explored). There’s also an “even more information” link that kids can tap to enter the Met’s website for grown-ups and explore the work in even greater detail.
Kids can use the Time Machine feature to explore Met holdings by time period (such as 500–1,000 A.D.), geography (such as Latin America and the Caribbean), and concept (such as “Inventions” or “Mythology”). “Videos” features brief clips sorted into four categories: “Create,” “Q&A,” “Made by Kids,” and “Celebrate.” “Create” and “Made by Kids” showcase kids’ creations, while Q&A videos feature kids asking questions about the museum (from how they preserve suits of armor to how they put together exhibits) and interviewing its curatorial and education staff. Finally, users can also tap a drop-down menu to learn more about the MetKids project, link to the site’s blog, find out about visiting the museum, and explore programs for kids and families.
If you’re headed to the Met with your learners, you’re in luck! This is an excellent tool to introduce or extend your in-person museum experience. If you can’t visit, though, there’s still enormous value here. Use the map to take a virtual tour of the museum. Ask your learners: What can you tell about how the exhibits are organized from what you find on the map? Use the Time Machine feature to explore art from different eras, and talk about how and why the Met might have larger collections from some areas and some time periods than from others. Check out the different activities associated with each work of art; some are more detailed than others, and some are geared toward very young kids, so pick the activities that best fit your learners and your classroom. Finally, check out those videos: Consider making your own Q&A videos with experts — in your school or in local organizations that kids hope to explore — or create your own projects that mirror the student projects featured on the site.
This might just be the ultimate museum website for kids. The site’s tagline is “Made for, with, and by kids,” and its resources deliver. This is a fun, approachable introduction for kids (and adults!) to the extraordinary riches that the Met has to offer. The videos might be the best part: It’s exciting to see kids ask thoughtful, age-appropriate questions and to meet similarly thoughtful responses from the museum’s curatorial staff. This is a warm, welcoming introduction to one of the country’s leading arts institutions, and it’s exciting that it feels so joyfully welcoming to kids and their curiosity.
There are still some areas for improvement. There’s sometimes a lot to read; each work of art has a long narrative and a lot of detail attached to it, and not every piece has an audio narration attached. It would be great if users could better chart their path through the museum or tag something for later viewing. The site has options to share via email or social media, but a built-in tool for this purpose would be a welcome addition. That being said, this is an exceptional, delightful way for young people to encounter art in a tone that’s never condescending and meets them exactly at their level.
Overall User Consensus About the App
There’s tons to see, do, and explore here; kids will be engrossed by the map, the Time Machine, and the videos — and they’ll likely want to visit in person or create their own works of art.
Curriculum and Instruction
Learning activities are thoughtfully constructed here. The extension activities with each work of art are cool and appealing, and they’re bound to get kids thinking critically and creatively.
Transcripts for most videos are great, plus the site is easy to navigate. Even more audio features would help the site appeal to an even wider range of users.