Discovery museum

Children Meet a Teacher: The Children’s Discovery Museum’s “Chagall for Children” exhibit is an interactive visit not to be missed


I have spent more than 45 years discovering art and artists and I remain in awe of Marc Chagall.

The unlikely artist was one of nine children born into an extremely poor and very religious Jewish family. Chagall grew up in a shtetl (a small ghetto-like village) in Vitebsk, Belarus, then part of the Russian Empire. He married his muse Bella Rosenfeld in 1909; he moved to Paris in 1910.

Chagall’s personal style and creativity flourished after moving to a Parisian art colony, where he was exposed to the avant-garde creative art movements of the early 20th century. The success of this highly prolific artist extends far beyond traditional media, such as painting, drawing and printmaking: he has also championed often overlooked art forms, including stained glass, fiber arts and Mosaic.

Throughout his life, Chagall created art that frequently contained a narrative reflecting his youth in Vitebsk. While some might think – mistakenly – that much of his art was too narrowly focused, Chagall created works that contain a universality transcending geographic boundaries, art movements and historical events. His work remains coveted by museums and collectors around the world.

The fantastic exhibition Chagall for children, a traveling exhibit that runs at the Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert in Rancho Mirage through April 27, does more than present opportunities to view originals and reproductions of this master’s works. Unlike traditional museum exhibits, Chagall for children includes 14 “play” stations. Each station is associated with a specific Chagall creation and invites visitors to use their senses in different ways. Additionally, guests can explore their own creative style: at each station, visitors are tasked with imitating, interpreting, rethinking, deconstructing and / or reconstructing this icon’s creative process. In a sense, visitors are encouraged to to be Marc Chagall.

Presented as an exhibition for children aged 2 to 12, this show will delight visitors of all ages. While I was there, I saw a woman over 70, walking with a cane and having trouble trying to sit on a small child’s chair.

Once seated, she looked intently at “Paris through the window”. After listening to the station’s commentary on headphones, she happily announced, “I’ve always tried to understand Chagall’s approach to perspective and a sense of space. She expressed her joy for bringing her grandchildren to see the show.

Near the “Windows of America” stained glass window, visitors can reconfigure the rooms and modify the amount of light coming from their own interpretation.

“Children often ask, ‘Did I do it right? Said Lianne Gayler, director of development and marketing for the museum. His answer ? “There is no right or wrong. It’s up to you.”

On the walls surrounding the learning stations, a series of panels offer a chronology of Chagall’s life; each offers a context that shaped the art of the master, including biographical events, art movements (such as Cubism, Suprematism, and Fauvism), and historical events (such as the two world wars).

Whatever the world around him, Chagall remains faithful to his personal style marked by complexity (witness “Le Jongleur”); unexpected colors (“Green Violinist”); optimism, benevolence and love (“anniversary”); incongruity, including rising figures (“The Flying Sleigh”); and caprices (“Le Coq”).

Chagall’s forays into various different movements were each short-lived; he ended up reinterpreting elements of various movements in his own style. In “Me and the Village” (below), he incorporated the basics of Cubism into his personal aesthetic, color palette and visual vocabulary. In essence, his visits to other art movements were vacations, not moves.

Chagall’s imagination demands attention, and his tales frequently transform people, animals and objects in unexpected ways, demonstrating his unwavering optimism and playfulness.

Christian Hohmann, of Hohmann Fine Art on El Paseo in Palm Desert, is the exhibition’s subscriber. “It was obvious to me,” he said. “Our gallery has long championed Chagall’s unique contributions to modern art.”

Most importantly, Hohmann is the father of two young daughters: “(The Children’s Discovery Museum) is a place where my children can have fun and learn. As public schools shrink the arts, the importance of the Children’s Discovery Museum is increased.

Sharon and Robert Freed also sponsored the Chagall for children exposure.

Chagall for children will be on display at the Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert, 71701 Gerald Ford Drive, Rancho Mirage, until Wednesday, April 27. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Saturday; and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. The museum is also open every third Thursday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is $ 8, with discounts; all adults must be accompanied by a child, and vice versa. For more information, call 760-321-0602, or visit