Museums and Communities News
November 2014
A preschooler participates in Museum Looks and Picture Books, a workshop pilot at the El Paso Museum of Art in partnership with AVANCE-El Paso. The workshop for preschoolers featured a hands-on, studio art project and a discussion about portraiture from the exhibition Gaspar Enríquez: Metaphors of El Barrio. Image courtesy of the El Paso Museum of Art


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.


El Paso Museum of Art Receives Major Grant for Early Childhood Program

The El Paso Museum of Art was awarded a $149,762 matching grant by the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to fund a three-year $309,171 arts awareness and visual literacy program. The program is a partnership with AVANCE-El Paso, a nonprofit organization that help families break the cycle of poverty through early childhood development and education. The three-year program begins with a pilot group in Spring 2015. Parents and children ages 3 to 5 will visit the museum weekly where they will participate in discussions and activities based on artworks led by Museum and AVANCE staff.  A set of bilingual curricula based on art making, storytelling, books and gallery tours will be developed with the goal to improve family literacy. Read more about the program on AAMD's website.



Saint Louis Art Museum Offers Tours Led by Veterans

The Saint Louis Art Museum recognized Veterans' Day with four days of military-themed tours led by two docents who are also veterans of the Vietnam War. The docents, Allen Langston and Ed Nickels, conceptualized the tours while they were in SLAM's docent training program. Langston and Nickels prefer to lead their tours with subtlety rather than with an explicitly-themed military tour. "There are ways to tell the story without beating it over people's heads," according to Langston. For example, Nickels includes Gustave Courbet's canine portrait The Greyhounds of the Comte de Choiseul, because the backdrop of the painting was a landing zone for the D-Day invasion of Normandy nearly 80 years later. More information on SLAM's veteran tours is available on the Museum's website and in this St. Louis Post-Dispatch article from 2012.



The Art of Seeing: Visual Literacy at the Toledo Museum of Art

On November 5-8, the Toledo Museum of Art hosted the International Visual Literacy Association's annual conference, titled The Art of Seeing: From Ordinary to Extraordinary, as part of its ongoing visual literacy initiative. Innovators from fields as varied as medicine, film and education convened for a series of keynote lectures about the rise of visual language. The lectures were free and open to the public. The conference also brought together researchers, educators, museum professionals, artists, business thought leaders and the general public during sessions about the rise of visual language in an increasingly image-saturated, digital world. "Understanding what we see could save a life, solve a criminal case or help prepare for a natural disaster," says the museum's director, Dr. Brian Kennedy. Read more on AAMD's website and at  


Matt Russell leads a WordShop session at the Toledo Museum of Art on November 6, 2014. WordShop is a United Way Women's Initiative that uses the visual arts to enhance children's writing skills. The workshop was part of the International Visual Literacy Association's conference The Art of Seeing: From Ordinary to Extraordinary, the first of its kind to be hosted by a museum.  Image courtesy of the Toledo Museum of Art.

DIA Away: the Museum's Free Mobile Interactive Classroom 

From The Macomb Daily: In September, the Detroit Institute of Arts launched DIA Away, a free, mobile interactive classroom that brings educational, hands-on art experiences to schools, community centers, senior facilities, fairs and festivals throughout Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties. Inside, participants can discover some of the ways artists think and then have the opportunity to try out creative thinking skills at digital and hands-on stations. More information is available on the DIA's website.




Dallas Museum of Art Goes Green with LEED Certification

In October, the Dallas Museum of Art announced that the museum was awarded LEED® Silver certification established by the U.S. Green Building Council and verified by the Green Building Certification Institute. The Museum achieved LEED Silver certification for energy use, lighting, water, and material use as well as for incorporating a variety of other sustainable strategies. By using less energy and water, LEED certified buildings save money for families, businesses and taxpayers; reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and contribute to a healthier environment for residents, workers and the larger community. More information is available on the DMA's website.



Memphis-Brooks Museum Program for Homeschoolers

The Homeschool Roster, a blog for parents of homeschoolers in West Tennessee, has featured the Memphis-Brooks Museum of Art's Home School Program. To accommodate more students the Museum recently changed the format of this program from first-come first-serve to open to anyone who'd like to attend. The program is an all-day, drop-in event featuring docent tours, self-guided activities, and art making. According to the Roster, "The educational benefits for the price (free) are ones that should not be missed." More information on Memphis-Brooks Home School programs, including future dates, is available on the Museum's website.