April 12, 2010  |  Events & Programs
The Shape of Things

A seven- or eight-year-old boy sits at a table and carefully sifts through a pile of brightly-colored laminated shapes. I have posed a challenge: can you show a person running? At first, he is stumped. He picks up some pieces but then declares, “I can’t.” So I pose for him. I bend my arms and legs and ask him to look at the shapes they are making, and then ask him to see if he can find or even combine some shapes to show that movement. I leave him for a few minutes and then return. He proclaims, “I did it!” and indeed he did. Using shapes such as simple rectangles and squares, and the more complex “L” and rectangular “U”s, he has created an abstracted figure of a man running. Later I ask if he can document his creation with a drawing, which he does.

Such is a typical experience as a facilitator for Shape Lab, our latest interactive space at MoMA.

As the designers of the Lab, we’ve tried to create a space where kids and adults feel comfortable and creative. We’ve stocked Shape Lab with small and large wooden blocks for building; magnetic walls where visitors can play with geometric, organic, and three-dimensional shapes; a table to draw and create special projects; and an area to lounge around and read books about shapes. We’re pleased to report that we’ve noticed visitors of all ages engaging with these materials—many even spending hours in the space.

In our role as Shape Lab facilitators, we and our colleagues have been helping visitors make connections between their own creations in the Lab and artwork in MoMA’s galleries. Through their experience in Shape Lab, we hope to give visitors a new lens through which they can look at art.

We invite you to come and explore Shape Lab. We hope it will spark a creative idea or help you think about shape and art in new ways.


Shape Lab is located on the first floor of the Museum’s Louis B. and Dorothy Cullman Education and Research Building.