Museums and Communities News
November 2012 
Auburn, AL high school students Katie Kirk (L) and Heather Connelly (R) pose with Werner Drewes' A Dark Thought (Was Visiting My Peaceful Backyard) and O. Louis Guglielmi's Subway Exit. Both paintings are in the collection of the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Art. The high school juniors took on the persona of these paintings for their original performance piece which won a bronze medal at National History Day. Further information on the performance and the Museum's involvement is below.

Whether it's art therapy for Alzheimer's patients or veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder; specially tailored educational program for home schoolers; work with juveniles under court jurisdiction; or innovative family programs, art museums everywhere are hard at work sharing their collections with their publics and engaging with their communities in new and diverse ways. 


Following is a roundup of news stories demonstrating the myriad ways different community and outreach programs at AAMD member museums. We'll have a new roundup with new stories every month. Enjoy!

Students create dramatic interpretation of Jule Collins Smith Museum paintings   

On October 13, two Auburn, AL high school students performed their nationally recognized performance piece at Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University. Heather Connelly and Katie Kirk developed A Tragedy of Errors: America's Hypocritical Reaction to Artistic Diplomacy for National History Day. The pair won bronze for the Senior Group Performance at the national competition in College Park, MD this year. You can view a preview of A Tragedy of Errors here.  In the piece, Connelly and Kirk take on the persona of two pieces of artwork in the JCSM's Advancing American Art collection. (The two are pictured above with the corresponding paintings.) Both works are on view in the exhibition Art Interrupted: Advancing American Art and the Politics of Cultural Diplomacy, which will also travel to several other AAMD institutions. More information is available at the Auburn University website. 



Learning English through art and discussion at El Museo de Barrio  

El Museo del Barrio is a host museum for the innovative literacy program Cultures & Literacies Through Arts for the 21st Century, or CALTA21. In the program adult students for whom English is a second language build their English skills through discussions about the works of art on view in several New York area museums, including El Museo. "CALTA21 helped me to learn more vocabulary, it taught me to ask questions, to talk about what the artist was trying to say," says student Hortencia Marmanillo. "It helped me to improve my English, my pronunciation." Participants who visited El Museo even returned with their families. More information on CALTA21 is at CUNY Newswire. 




Barnes Foundation program brings art to middle schoolers 

 From CBS Philadelphia: The Barnes Foundation's new "Crossing Boundaries" education program is providing local middle school students with access to Dr. Barnes' collection. Over a dozen schools are sending students to the Barnes to learn about the art as well as Dr. Barnes' unique way of displaying his collection. "I liked the bright colors in the background, including green and blue," said 13-year old Colin Milewski of Cezanne's The Card Players. "They had a lot of triangles - there was a lot of geometry inside of it."    



Westmoreland Museum of American Art shows artwork by Make-A-Wish Kids 

The Westmoreland Museum of American Art has partnered with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to work with children with serious medical issues; the partnership culminated in an exhibition of artwork by Make-A-Wish kids in the museum this fall. In July, the Museum hosted twelve children aged six through seventeen for an interactive tour and art-making session. Pictures of that event are available at the Westmoreland's Facebook page. The artwork from that day was then matted, framed, and displayed in the Museum's KidSpace Gallery. The Westmoreland hosted an opening reception in September for the young Make-A-Wish artists, their families and friends.


Taft Museum of Art murals beautify public spaces in Cincinnati   

This summer, the Taft Museum of Art displayed 80 reproductions from the Taft's collection and 2 murals in open air spaces throughout the Cincinnati area through their "Art for All" program. The program was a celebration of the Taft Museum's 80th anniversary. The two murals were completed in partnership with ArtWorks, a nonprofit that employs local youth and artists to create public art works in the Cincinnati area. Art for All ended in September but thirty-five reproductions will remain on view at arts centers, organizations, and the Greater Cincinnati Airport, and other locations in the area. More information and a map of Art for All locations is available at the Taft's website. has information and a picture of one of the murals as a work in progress.  



Montclair Art Museum launches Free First Thursday nights 

On October 4, the Montclair Art Museum launched Free First Thursdays, a monthly event that will provide extra access to the museum through extended hours and free admission. From 5-9 pm on the first Saturday of each month, MAM will offer art-making activities, live music, programming, and a cash bar. MAM director Lora Urbanelli said, "For a long time we've wanted to keep our galleries open on a regular basis for evening viewing, and to make them open to the public for free." Pictures from the October 4 First Saturday are available on Flickr.  A list of programming at upcoming Free First Thursdays is available on the MAM's website.