Museums and Communities News
October 2014
A University of Virginia student mentor with her mentee from the Boys & Girls Club of Charlottesville work on a creative activity as part of The Fralin Museum of Art's Early Visions program.

Photo by Sarah Evans


Following is our monthly roundup of stories demonstrating the myriad ways AAMD member museums serve their communities.  


AAMD museums - we want your stories! If you have a community program you would like to see featured in Museums and Communities news please contact Alison Wade.


Early Visions: Building Relationships Through Art at The Fralin

The Fralin Museum of Art's Early Visions is a six-week spring program that pairs University of Virginia students in mentoring relationships with children from the Boys & Girls Club of Charlottesville. Student mentors help to plan creative activities that encourage children to explore the Museum's exhibitions, promote critical thinking, and relate the children's discoveries to their own lives.


For Early Visions coordinator Catherine Jones, it is the close relationships that develop between the mentors and their buddies that she finds most rewarding. "Several buddy pairs stood out to me in their collaborative art-making techniques and creative problem solving strategies. These participants learned from and about one another while exploring the Museum's exhibitions and working side-by-side on creative projects."


Olga Arouca, director of the Southwood Boys & Girls Club, has been a partner in Early Visions for more than six years. "This program is so valuable because it exposes our kids to opportunities that they don't often have, such as seeing artwork in the museum setting. The mentoring is the biggest and best part for the kids, because many of our kids are not getting enough of that one-on-one attention. They get to know U.Va. students on a personal level, and begin to identify with them."


Children make their own molas inspired by the Arts of Panama exhibition at the Harn Museum of Art.
Image courtesy of the Harn Museum of Art


Hands-On Family Day at The Harn Museum of Art

From The Gainesville Sun: In September the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art at the University of Florida hosted a family day centered on their exhibition Patterns Past and Present: Arts of Panama. Children and families toured the exhibition with docents and learned about molas, textiles of Panama's indigenous Kuna peoples. Visitors also had the opportunity to handle molas in the museum's Bishop Study Center and create their own molas. Elizabeth King, visitor engagement and volunteer coordinator for the museum, said that Family Day is about "letting kids feel ownership (and) feel a sense of belonging in the museum, (and) letting them have the opportunity to talk about the art out loud."


PAFA's Art Island at Sheppard Elementary School in Philadelphia.
Image courtesy of PAFA


PAFA's Art Island Brings Art Outside the Museum

In March 2014, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) began its new Art Island initiative, creating physical outposts of the Museum in community locations around Philadelphia. Art Island provides a sustained, collaborative art-making experience between a practicing artist and community members, while creating a creative space for cultural and artistic sharing, as well as family bonding and community building.


The first installment of Art Island took place at Sheppard Elementary School in North Philadelphia, where over 300 students, teachers, and parents created original art pieces that were installed as a colorful, three-story mural in the staircase and entrance of the school. Art Island offers an opportunity for participants to exhibit their work, and to learn about the life and process of an artist, highlighting PAFA's dual role as a Museum and School of Fine Arts.  


Students from the Omaha Public Schools' ESL/Refugee and Migrant Education program participate in a quilt workshop at the Joslyn Museum of Art during National Welcoming Week.Image courtesy of the Joslyn Museum of Art

A Warm Welcome for Refugee Students at the Joslyn Art Museum

Sixteen Karen students - most from camps along the Thai-Burma border and all now part of Omaha Public Schools' ESL/Refugee and Migrant Education program - participated in a five-day quilt workshop at Joslyn Art Museum during National Welcoming Week, a time focused on bringing people together in a spirit of unity and friendship. Guided by volunteer quilters, each teen created two squares - a memory of their homeland and a dream for their future - to contribute to a "Dreams and Memories" story quilt. More information is available on AAMD's website.



Working Together at the AK (2014)
Working Together at the AK (2014)



Creative Connection: Disability Program at the Albright-Knox

From The Albright-Knox Art Gallery Tumblr: The Albright-Knox Art Gallery's Creative Connection program uses the artmaking process as a powerful tool to further understanding of the modern and contemporary artworks within the museum's collection. Through this understanding and hands-on experience, individuals are able to grow through art. Often, evidence of this growth is exhibited in final works of art, an enhanced sense of confidence, and an interest in expressing one's thoughts. The education exhibition Process to Discovery highlights some of the most recent Creative Connection program artists. More information is available on The Albright-Knox Tumblr and website, as well as in the above video, by Out and About in WNY.


October is Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month

Each October, Art Beyond Sight raises awareness of the importance of accessibility to the arts for people with low vision and other disabilities. Over 200 partner organizations around the world participate in Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month, including 47 AAMD member museums. A full list of this year's participants is available here. Several AAMD museums and their accessibility programs were also included on the Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month Blog: