How Hirst’s spin paintings deepened Tate Kids engagement and reach from preschool to pre-teens.

Sharna Jackson, UK , Mar Dixon, UK

“Damien Hirst first came to public attention in London in 1988 when he conceived and curated Freeze, an exhibition in a disused warehouse which showed his work and that of his friends and fellow students at Goldsmiths College. In the nearly quarter of a century since that pivotal show, Hirst has become one of the most influential artists of his generation.” Tate

Tate Modern’s Damien Hirst retrospective, which ran from April to September 2012 was bound to be a blockbuster due to Hirst’s international divisiveness; but how Tate Kids – Tate’s dedicated digital portal for six to 12s – would digitally engage, enthuse and extend its audience and reach through the show, on a limited budget, was a challenge.

This demo will discuss how key works and themes were selected from the retrospective to use as a locus to engage children from 18 months to 13 years, which would then play out through social media, digital toys and blogs. It will cover how Tate Kids and Mar Dixon worked with teams internal and external to Tate, and with children directly to enthuse others to maximise coverage of an event and by extension a show. It will show how Tate relinquished control of its brand to positive affect, and will report our findings and recommendations for other institutions using a show - major or otherwise - to engage with children and preteens; and their parents.