Kids' Gallery: Using the Internet for Artistic Self-Expression


There are many easy-to-use digital art tools available for adults, and more recently for children, especially on CD-ROMs. On the Internet, however, we wanted to offer children not only a basic set of digital tools, but also a virtual gallery -- a place to be inspired by what other children had created and to show off works of their own.


Our approach back in 1996 was quite simple, yet highly innovative for a global, networked art-making environment on the Internet. We combined four basic activities in the Kids' Gallery -- See, Surf, Make, & Publish. We offered children a chance to use the Internet to experience various aspects of the creative process: seeing and surfing websites for artistic inspiration; making and sending their art for self-expression; and publishing for social exchange and communication with peers. The strategy was to design Kids Gallery as a "themed space," focusing on themes which appeals directly to children's special interests. It also invites children to send their ideas for themes for new galleries, as well as featured an "Artist of the Week" section, a feature we knew would inspire children to create and share their work.


Over time, 30 different themes were selected for kids' digital galleries; including Space, Dreams, Rainforests, Inventions, and even Pizza! Each Gallery offers four different options - 1) See, 2) Surf, 3) Make, 4) Send. Children can select to start by creating their own art right away in "Make," or to be artistically inspired by seeing other kids' artwork online in "See," or chose to "Surf" websites to learn more about a theme or a topic, look at visuals and information that can inspire their creativity. They can also create their own digital artwork with an easy, online drawing tool that also allows for text captioning in "Make," and then "Send" their creation to MaMaMedia to be published in the online gallery. The Kids' Gallery is hosted by the three popular MaMaMedia characters -- The M-Gang.


To date, hundred of thousands of projects have been submitted by children of various ages and nationalities, by boys as well as girls. Thousands of kids have used the MaMaMedia paint tool and visited the galleries.

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