clyfford still | museum
A mom holds her young daughter while the daughter points at a painting
Photo by Trevr Merchant

Clyfford Still, Art, and the Young Mind


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Exhibition dates are subject to change.

Clyfford Still, Art, and the Young Mind is a community-wide collaborative exhibition that examines the aesthetic preferences of early learners using Still’s artworks as a basis for study.

Installed in five of the Museum’s nine galleries and based on current research and field work,  this exhibition investigates five significant themes in the visual development of infants through early childhood: high contrast, pattern, scale, recognizable imagery, and bright, highly-saturated colors. Gallery text reveals not only how children in the community responded to these five themes in Still’s artwork, but also how Still achieved an art form that continues to resonate through time by mastering these fundamental visual concepts. The remaining galleries in the Museum are arranged in a chronological narrative and highlight masterworks from the collection selected with families and young children in mind.

Clyfford Still Museum’s curatorial and educational staff worked with young children (ages 6 months – 8 years old) and teachers from partner schools and childcare centers around the Denver metro area on every level of the exhibition, including artwork selection and arrangement, object interpretation and gallery text, and programs. Though primarily created by and for early learners, the exhibition includes various levels of engagement so visitors of all ages can explore abstraction, the progression of visual function and preference, and the intrinsic power behind Clyfford Still’s art.

This exhibition marks the next chapter of CSM’s fostering of engagement with its unique collections by facilitating significant experiences of Still’s work with an entirely new target audience for the Museum. Breaking down the misconception that abstraction is too complex for young children, Clyfford Still, Art, and the Young Mind presents current, and will generate new research illuminating the rich benefits of art museum experiences in young children’s lives.

By engaging with this growing field of research, the CSM continues to fulfill its mission to broaden the definition of a single-artist museum through the generation of cutting-edge exhibitions, scholarly research, and educational and other cross-disciplinary programs.

School partners include Clayton Early Learning, Colorado State University Early Childhood Center, Montclair School of Academics and Enrichment, Head Start at the Dagny Site, Gust Elementary, Boulder Journey School, Center for Talent Development, and Catholic Charities ECE Programs at Mariposa (Head Start).

Center for Talent Development logo

In addition to area schools, thought partners for this exhibition include the School of Education & Human Development at the University of Colorado Denver, the Colorado Association for the Education of Young Children, and the Colorado Head Start Association.


CU Denver logo

Center for Talent Development logo

Read the press release about the project.

Woman looks at a laptop with children and a teacher on the screen and she writes something in a notebook
Nicole Cromartie, Director of Education and Programs and co-curator of the exhibition works with children at a partner school