Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Nurturing Young Children's Aesthetic Responses to Original Works of Art Thru Studio and Art Appreciation Experiences

Kathy Danko-McGhee.

Research to determine the aesthetic preferences of young children was conducted at the Toledo Museum of Art. Children were randomly selected and taken, each individually, into the Toledo Museum of Art. The child was asked to walk around and view the art works. Those works that held the child's attention for one minute were considered to be of interest to the child. Those chosen works were then recorded by the principle investigator.

After the child expressed interest in an art work, as indicated by viewing time, questions were asked that related to the art work and responses were recorded. This provided insight about the selections made.

The findings suggest that young children prefer both abstract and realistic art work. Particular aesthetic qualities that are of interest to these children include shiny surfaces as well as gold and silver. Children also preferred to view furniture pieces, such as chairs and cabinets, as well as dinner-ware.

As a result of these findings, learning centers were developed by university students that focused on each of these works. The centers were placed in the Family Center of the Toledo Museum of Art where children and their families could use them. The centers included art appreciation and studio activities that were related to each work of art favored by children in this investigation. Such a project has fostered a better understanding of these art works and has encouraged parents and their children to visit the museum to study the original works more closely.


Kathy Danko-McGhee  (United States)
Early Childhood Art Education Consultant
Department of Art I also serve as a consultant to the Early Childhood Program of the Toledo Museum of Art.
University of Toledo

Dr. Danko-McGhee currently serves as the Early Childhood Art Education Coordinator at the University of Toledo. She also serves as a consultant for the Early Childhood Programs at the Toledo Museum of Art. Dr. Danko-McGhee is the author of "The Aesthetic Preferences of Young Children" published by Mellen Press in 2000. She continues to work on this research topic at the Toledo Museum of Art. Dr. Danko-McGhee has presented her research at conferences around the world and has published in national and international journals.

  • Young children's aesthetic preferences
  • Using an art museum as an education tool
  • The art of engagement and the interests of the aesthetic
  • museums and cultural heritage

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)