A journey with stories and works of art that links families to other possible worlds / Roxana Pruzan (MNBA)
Estefanía Radnic

With my daughters we toured the museum several times to the rhythm of the wonderful stories told by Roxana Pruzan. A very fun and original experience that proposes approaching the museum and great works of art by “playing” and proposing new readings on Art History in capital letters … Roxana is part of the Educational Team of the National Museum of Fine Arts (MNBA) where she performs a tour for children and their families during the weekends and collaborates in publications with proposals for teachers. She is an Initial Level teacher, was a director and also worked in teacher training. She studied theater, puppets, clown and trained as a narrator at the Ana María Bovo Story School.

“Escuchando cuadros, mirando relatos” © Gentileza de MNBA

Estefanía Radnic: Your work in the educational team of the MNBA weaves networks between the world of stories and oral narration for children, the circus and the theater, and the visual arts, how does this interesting crossroads take place? 

Roxana Pruzan: “The cycle “Listening to pictures, looking at stories”, is aimed at establishing a dialogue, a cross between the different languages: visual art and storytelling, inviting participants to “enter the work” in a playful way, linking children and their families with other possible worlds, other ways of looking and listening to what a work and the artist can tell us. We try to transmit the stories in a meaningful way and the enriching and pleasant experience of visiting the museum for all visitors. From the chosen artwork, I tell different stories, author or popular stories. I am accompanied by a puppet (Lila) who appears as a link between the works. The proposal changes every season. In a cart that contains a scenography related to the theme we choose, we move through the rooms. The chosen artworks are related and invite to connect with what is observed. First, a shared reading of the work is done, the artist is discussed and then the story is told.

“Escuchando cuadros, mirando relatos” © Gentileza de MNBA

ER: What do you think of education through art? How does this arise from an emblematic national museum like the MNBA? 

RP: In the Educational Team we work with the idea of offering meaningful activities and experiences. The museum ceases to be a silent and stuffy space to become a place where through art we can educate and this is pleasant and enriching for everyone. That is why we outline different ways of approaching school and weekend visits, rethinking creative approaches for each visit.

Stories, puppets, theatrical scenes, the use of objects that accompany the journey, playful experiences … We try to generate rich experiences that provoke emotions and provide children with tools to interpret, imagine and enjoy art, in its different manifestations. That the museum becomes a livable, pleasant space and some trace is impregnated to generate the desire to return again and again.

Other activities offered by the Educational Team are “The MNBA visits you”, a dramatized experience for public schools and interventions in the waiting room of the Garraham Hospital (in Buenos Aires) with different modalities. In general, they are families that rarely come to the Museum and it is a way to open the doors so that everyone can enjoy the works of art. I participated by telling stories and screen projections of works of art.

Hospital Garraham, actividad “El MNBA los visita” © Gentileza del MNBA

ER: Parallel to the museum, you are the coordinator of Palabras Imaginadas(Words imagined), a proposal that connects theater and plastic arts, storytelling, book and puppet fairs, selection of books for libraries and training in narration, reading aloud and poetry . How did it come about and what kind of actions do you carry out from this interesting transdisciplinary community-oriented project? 

RP: Palabras imaginadas came up in 2009, along with my colleague and friend Mercedes Pugliese with whom I shared my training in storytelling and who opened the door for me to enter the museum. We created a team made up of actors and different collaborators, with several proposals that were interesting for us to bring closer to schools, festivals and different cultural spaces. Mercedes went to live in Finland and I was in charge of the Coordination of this projet. We offer theater and plastic art shows for Initial and Primary Level, that put forward a poetic and playful game. Through the theater we approach the artists and their most emblematic artworks. “Among pigeons, brushes and bulls” about the artistic life of Pablo Picasso and “Juanito dreams without monsters” about Antonio Berni. Also “In the days of Ladybug” with works of art by travelers in colonial times. With each show we offer a booklet with activities and information to guide and accompany teachers in their task.

We also organize Book and Puppet Fairs in schools, with carefully selected material for Initial and Primary Level with Argentine and world publishers. We offer advice and sale of books for the assembly of classroom libraries. We provide teacher training on topics related to storytelling, reading aloud, poetry, and the selection of literary material.

Obra de teatro sobre Antonio Berni “Juanito sueña sin monstruos” © Diego Romero

ER: Your idea of making children travel with the imagination without having to move geographically, became very literal and during these times of pandemic, is there any activity in virtual mode that you propose during these winter holidays? Do you have any suggestions or ideas that you can share with parents who spend a lot of time at home with their children? 

RP: I like to think of storytelling as that possibility of traveling without moving, embarking on the same ship or boat or whatever each one chooses and enjoying the shared trip.  At the moment I tell stories on the networks of Palabras imaginadas (@palabrasimaginadas), I also have a bookstore in my house with many books on children’s and young people’s literature and handmade puppets. I do online training that I really enjoy for teachers, mediators and all those interested in storytelling and reading stories. Also with a colleague we participated in the Espacios Cultural Center with “Neighbors who sing and tell”, a small sample that is part of a show that we did not get to premiere because of the pandemic. In the MNBA networks we upload stories with works of art, adapting the format to the possibilities we have today to reach families.

As for the suggestions, it is important to take time to tell stories, play with poetry, recover songs and games from when the parents were kids. Being able to enjoy artworks, invent stories based on what is observed, give them a voice if there are people, imagine them in other spaces and give free rein to the imagination.

Obra de teatro sobre Antonio Berni “Juanito sueña sin monstruos” © Diego Romero
@Gentileza del MNBA
Obra de teatro “Entre palomas, pinceles y toros” acerca de la vida artística de Pablo Picasso © Palabras imaginadas
@Gentileza del MNBA
“Escuchando cuadros, mirando relatos” © Gentileza de MNBA
“Escuchando cuadros, mirando relatos”  © ph Julio Colantoni
Chicos al arte: A project that believes in the infinite capacity of children