Stepping Stones is a monthly column that breaks down seemingly daunting tasks into simple, manageable “steps” that any art educator can take and apply directly to their classroom. Stepping Stones will explore a variety of topics and share advice for art-on-a-cart teachers and those with art rooms.
BRINGING THE MUSEUM TO THE ART ROOM
by Heidi O’Hanley
One of the core arts anchor standards is Presenting, which covers the interpretation, preservation, and sharing of artistic works. Currently, the art teachers in our district are reviewing the national and state standards and finding that even though we discuss museums and galleries within our art classes, we are still not reaching the full potential desired to achieve the anchor standard of Presenting.
For the standard of Presenting, students should be able to analyze, interpret, and select artistic work for presentation. They should also develop and refine artistic work for presentation, as well as convey meaning through the presentation of artistic work. Essentially, students are not only learning how to select artworks to present the skills they learned, but also how we can care and preserve their creations.
For each grade level, students should be able to learn about museums, galleries, and other venues that preserve and display artworks from many cultures time periods, and current artists. This would be an awesome opportunity to do a field trip to local art galleries and museums, which would help students see first hand how these places care for and preserve artifacts from our history.
Unfortunately, many schools do not have the option to organize field trips to local museums or galleries, so parts of this anchor standard are more difficult to achieve than others. There are a few ideas in mind to help achieve this standard without going overboard in trying to organize field trips for entire grade levels.
1. VIRTUAL TOURS. Many museum websites, such at the Art Institute of Chicago, features virtual gallery tours that show what the galleries appear like, as well as information about each piece displayed. This may not be exactly like being at the museum itself, but it’s pretty close to it. It’s a nice feature to work with because even if you were in the gallery of the museum, it can sometimes be tricky to take in all the information surrounding the artworks displayed.
2. INTERACTIVE GAMES. Some museum and gallery websites also contain interactive games that can be played individually (on tablets), or as a whole group. Using the Art Institute of Chicago’s website as another reference, they designed the “Curious Corner” site for students to learn about artworks through games, such as matching, designing, and following along with stories. Students can design masks, create a Cornell shadow box, and match faces to the paintings. The Museum of Modern Art (New York) also displays interactive games called “Destination Modern Art,” which visits many popular modern art pieces displayed in the museum.
3. ORGANIZE AN INTERVIEW OR A GOOGLE HANGOUT/SKYPE SESSION WITH A CURATOR OR CONSERVATOR. Another way to have students know that careers involved with preservation and care of artworks is by contacting museum and gallery curators and conservators and hosting a Google Hangout or Skype session with your students. This would be a great experience for any grade level, plus students can learn more about different careers in the arts.
If you don’t know a curator off hand, it doesn’t hurt to call or email and local or national museums and galleries and ask. What is the harm in asking? Restoration artists and conservators also may have separate studio spaces, which may or may not give them flexibility with interview times.
4. ORGANIZE AN INTERVIEW OR A GOOGLE HANGOUT/SKYPE WITH AN ARTIST. Artists are a great resource for discussing artworks, especially how to select artworks for presentation. Last year, I personally contacted local artists and arranged a Google Hangout with a few of my classes, which gave students a chance to ask questions about artworks created, how pieces are displayed and sold, and how artists care for their artworks. I’ve even had artists come and visit my students and bring in selected artworks to showcase!
5. COLLABORATE WITH LOCAL ART GUILDS AND ORGANIZATIONS. There are a few local resources many do not think of right away, but if you build connections with local arts guilds and groups, you can assist with creating community-building activities between local artists with your students. In contacting a local arts guild, you may find that many artists are more than willing to talk with your classes, visit or even showcase your students’ artworks within local galleries.
In talking with the members of the art groups, students can learn more about presenting and preserving their own artworks for display and storage. Larger cities may have more access to art groups, but even in rural areas, you may find an art group or two willing to help in bringing more of the local arts to your students.
The best way to showcase your students achieving the standard is to promote what you do with your students! If your school uses social media to share student achievements, why not share how they learned how to present and preserve their artworks?
Arts & Activities Contributing Editor, Heidi O’Hanley (NBCT), teaches art at Brodnicki Elementary School in Justice, Illinois. Visit her blog at www.talesfromthetravellingartteacher.blogspot.com.