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Bringing art to life in classrooms with Magic Lantern

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Today I’m talking to Briony Brickell, the director of Magic Lantern, an educational charity delivering interactive art history workshops in schools across the UK. We chat about the organisation’s work, its values, and the interactive art history sessions they conduct in primary schools for children aged 4 to 11.

We explore Magic Lantern’s unique cross-curricular approach, incorporating art history into various subjects like science, geography, history, English, maths, and more.

We discuss a variety of specific strategies used in sessions, such as inviting students to step into artworks, creating soundscapes, exploring colours and patterns, and engaging students in the making process through dry painting.

Briony also details a session involving Henri Rousseau’s painting “Surprised” and shares how information is shared in the sessions.

Briony concludes with tips for engaging children with art, emphasising the importance of cultivating a culture of looking, letting paintings speak for themselves initially, and gradually introducing historical and narrative context.

Hope you enjoy our chat!


Henri Rousseau Surprised (1891)

Hans Holbein The Ambassadors (1533)

The Townley Discobolus statue

Magic Lantern is an award winning charity that has been turning primary school classrooms into pop-up art galleries for nearly 30 years. Children are given the opportunity to explore, discuss and bring to life famous artworks, and discover the world of art from cave paintings to Cubism, Gothic to Graffiti, and Turner to the Turner Prize. These unique art history workshops are designed to support classroom topics across the whole curriculum and incorporate elements of drama, soundscape, writing and dialogue.

Magic Lantern website

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