Journey to the stars

Kids explore at Palazzo Strozzi’s English-language workshop

Francesca Williams
May 21, 2009

Palazzo Strozzi, in the heart of Florence’s historic centre, is getting a reputation for bringing innovation to Florence, and its programming for families is no exception. Beginning with the current exhibit, Galileo: Images of the Universe from Antiquity to the Telescope, which runs through August 30, Palazzo Strozzi is offering special family programs in English every Saturday morning at 11am. 

Two different programs run on alternate Saturdays. Both have been created for children ages 7 to 12, and each offers a unique way to explore themes raised by the exhibit. 

Imagining the Cosmos: Seeking Answers in the Stars, a guided conversation in the galleries, is offered on the second and fourth Saturday of the month. From the myths of Ancient Greece to Galileo’s telescope, it looks at the ways our understanding of the universe has changed through the ages. Discussion and activities in the galleries are followed by an art workshop where kids (and parents, if they like!) create a personal planetarium. 

Stories in the Stars combines storytelling and sketching in the galleries. Offered on the first and third Saturday of the month, the program explores perspectives from different cultures. In June, the stories will include myths about the planets, and in July the focus will shift to the stories that different cultures have told about the stars. An interactive discussion is followed by the opportunity to sketch in the galleries.

Both activities, which are free with paid admission, are designed and taught by two American educators who reside in Florence. Devorah Block was a museum educator at the Brooklyn Museum and MoMA in New York, and Elizabeth Molina spent four years at the Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts. They have taken care to create activities that are equally interesting to visitors and residents and see the workshops as more than just a cultural activity: they provide a place for children and parents to meet and enjoy themselves.

For families who want something to do during the week, the Strozzi offers a unique self-guided experience with the Starry Messenger’s Saddlebag. This carry-all is specially devised to help children and their parents have an interactive visit to the exhibition. Cardboard astrolabes, maps of the sky, solar clocks and sextants all allow children to conduct experiments by observing the sky with the naked eye, in exactly the same way as astronomers used to do right up to Galileo’s day. 

Because the family programs complement each other, children and parents will want to make return visits to the museum during each exhibit. This is facilitated by the new family ticket, which allows two adults and two children ages 7 to 18 unlimited access to the exhibit for just €20.00 (children six and under enter free). 

Palazzo Strozzi also knows how to make its visitors comfortable. The air-conditioned galleries offer a welcome respite during the hot Florentine summer, and the Planet Café in the courtyard is the perfect spot to stop for a coffee, a cool drink or even lunch.





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