There aren’t many major museum directors who would be willing to turn over their institutions for the day to a group of patrons and hundreds of children, most of whom were not tall enough to get on the big-kid rides at an amusement park. And that is what the Hammer Museum did this past weekend -- a carnival of sorts. But Hammer director Ann Philbin displayed an inclusionary vision when she unleashed the next generation of museum-goers in Armand Hammer’s marble palace Sunday afternoon.
It was all for the fourth installment of the Hammer’s fundraising event for children called K.A.M.P. (Kids Art Museum Project), the brain-child of museum patron Brooke Kanter, which supports Hammer's children programs throughout the year.
Each year the event features a series of celebrity readers, such as prior year storytellers Will Ferrell, Jason Bateman and Hilary Swank. This year celebrity guests Dianna Agron, Julie Bowen, Jodie Foster and James Van Der Beek led story time and read from their favorite children’s books in the museum’s galleries. About this special part of the event, Kanter (wife of CAA’s Adam Kanter) says, “The idea was to get kids into the galleries and to feel more comfortable in a museum environment … and they love seeing celebrities.”
The Hollywood Reporter sat in on Julie Bowen’s wonderfully animated reading of That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown by Cressida Cowell, and after a bubbling cluster of teenage girls mobbed her at the end, the Modern Family star shared a few thoughts on the experience. “My own kids can’t stand it when I read in funny voices, so I felt a little more liberated here.”
Asked how she gets her children to enjoy museum going, Bowen said: “We come here to the Hammer or to LACMA and I tell them we have one hour -- important to keep it limited -- and they lead the way -- also very important. And we ask them to pick out one thing that they would like to take home with them.”
Numerous stars and VIPs came out to mix with the glitter-tots, including Jack Black, Lawrence Bender, art consultant Andrea Feldman Falcione, Lionsgate’s Erik Feig, Viveca Paulin-Ferrell, director Tucker Gates, Breckin Meyer, Amanda Peet, Gelila and Wolfgang Puck, Tom Everett Scott, Lauren Taschen, Lena Wald and Toni Wald.
The Hammer also invites an accomplished group of Los Angeles artists -- this year’s included Edgar Arceneaux, Vishal Jugdeo, Glenn Kaino, Monique Prieto, Jennifer Steinkamp, Retna and John Sonsini -- to lead workshops based on their working processes. Graffiti artist and teaching artist Retna was rocking a charm by event sponsor Dodo (a second brand from jeweler Pomellato), as was the hardworking head honcho of the event, Brooke Kanter.
Speaking about Dodo, Kanter said, “The charms, like the one I am wearing here, all have a special meaning. Everything here today is about whimsy and art and fun, and I think their brand ties in with that in a great way. Because my charm is an octopus, which means more hugs please -- everyone hug me today!”
Other sponsors included Stella McCartney and Puma. Tickets cost $150 and proceeds benefit Hammer Kids’ free public programs.
Kanter went on to describe the genesis of K.A.M.P.: “The idea was a way to connect my kids to the museum. When I was a little girl there was a children’s museum downtown, and I went with my mom, and I remember painting with Chuck Arnoldi. I thought it was such an incredible experience. I want my children to have the opportunity to do something that’s intelligent and not just crafty. And who better to turn to than these incredible artists who bring their own thought process to these kids rather than dumbing it down.”