Museums and Communities News
September 2014
Students from Seattle's Arts & Academics Academy High School who participated in the Seattle Art Museum's Design Your 'Hood this past summer. The program culiminated in the students re-desigining their school's computer lab. Photo by Honor Hawkins.


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.


Seattle Art Museum Program Encourages Positive Change Through Art

From KING 5, Seattle: A Seattle Art Museum program is helping students use art to re-envision their community for better. Design Your 'Hood (DYH) is a multi-session intensive workshop focused on art, urban design and community change. Teens are challenged to re-envision their community and design a public space that will enhance their neighborhoods and/or the city in a way that is meaningful to young people, residents and/or visitors. This past summer, a group of teens from the Arts & Academics Academy in White Center, WA took part in DYH that helped them re-design the Academy's computer lab. Students met with design studios and architects to learn about the artistic process; these meetings helped inform their own choices when re-envisioning the lab. "It's not just making a place prettier," said teacher Anne Gregory. "It's making a place a better community for themselves." More information on DYH is available here. 



At the Dallas Museum of Art, Meaningful Moments for Visitors with Alzheimer's

In a post on the Dallas Museum of Art blog, Amanda Blake, DMA Head of Family, Access, and School Experiences, describes her experiences working on Meaningful Moments, a program for visitors with Alzheimer's disease and their care partners. Despite the fear inherent in a diagnosis of Alzheimer's and the daily challenges that the disease presents, "there is often laughter and joking as participants create and share their artwork," Blake writes. "If someone were to pass by our group in the galleries, it would appear as if longtime friends were chatting and reminiscing." Participants are able to socialize and connect with people sharing similar struggles as well as connect with artworks that may stimulate memory. One care partner told Blake "that she needs the program, as it is a time when she can connect emotionally with [her husband] and not think about the disease for the two hours that they are in the Museum." Continue on to Uncrated to read more moving stories from Meaningful Moments at the DMA. (You may want a tissue handy.)


Montclair Art Museum Brings Art to Community with Art Truck

This summer the Montclair Art Museum launched its MAM Art Truck, a mobile studio, housed in a retrofitted ice cream truck that offers art projects and lessons to Montclair and Northern New Jersey. Since early July, the Art Truck has engaged New Jerseyites through art at over 60 events in 25 towns, from farmers markets and jazz festivals to ongoing programs in area senior centers to children's programs during adult swim at community pools. More information, including an updated schedule, is available at the MAM website. You can also follow the truck on social media at #MAMArtTruck

Montclair Art Museum Educator Peg Kenselaar waving from the MAM Art Truck at its premiere at the Montclair 4th of July Parade. Since its debut the MAM Art Truck has engaged New Jerseyites at 60 events across 29 towns. Image courtesy of the Montclair Art Museum.
NMWA Takes Teacher Professional Development On the Road

Educators from National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) in Washington, D.C. traveled to Northern Ohio in late July 2014 to present a three-day professional development workshop for 35 K-12 teachers from Lorain City Schools. Lorain has suffered numerous setbacks in the last few decades with the closure, relocation, or downsizing of major employers; approximately 87 percent of the Lorain City School District's students qualify for free or reduced lunch.


Taking inspiration from the weeklong on-site teacher institute Art, Books, and Creativity (ABC), this workshop introduced participants to the museum and its arts-integration curriculum and served as a pilot program for future ABC national outreach endeavors. The ABC curriculum integrates the visual arts and language arts and is inspired by the museum's unique collection of artists' books. During the Lorain City Schools workshop, teachers practiced Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS), a method for facilitating discussions about art; created a variety of artists' books to explore connections between visual arts and language arts; and brainstormed ways to incorporate art-making and art discussion into their classroom routines.


Responses were overwhelmingly positive. Said one participant, "This course was a good blend of hands-on and coursework. This is practical and much needed as we do not have art in elementary." Another enthused, "The hands-on book making...was awesome. It was fun to watch people work through lunch and breaks-very engaging!!"



IMLS Awards "Community Anchor" Grants

Congratulations to the 34 AAMD museums that received grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Services! A full list of grants announced on September 18 is available here. Of particular interest to the Museums and Communities newsletter, five of the grants are in the "Community Anchors" category. They include:

  • The Bronx Museum of the Arts will hire an evaluator to asses and facilitate the growth of its three signature programs-Bronx Stories, Back in the Bronx and Bronx Lab-to ensure that they continue to celebrate, affirm, and advance the vibrancy of the borough and its multigenerational voices.
  • Cool Culturea New York City non-profit organization, will implement "Strengthening Neighborhoods' Arts Access Program," with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum, and Queens Museum of Art serving as community anchors for 10 early learning programs each in neighborhoods of high need with families living in poverty and at high risk for low educational outcomes for children.
  • The Frye Art Museum will expand its arts engagement program for people living with dementia and their care partners with new program components that serve participants at later stages of the disease.
  • The National Museum of Mexican Art (NMMA) will organize a traveling

    exhibition that will demonstrate to teens and young adults how living in an urban neighborhood shapes the lives of the residents. The exhibition will include artwork created for the exhibition, curriculum for educators, community library partnerships, and a community lecture series. NMMA will collaborate with public libraries to create a curriculum for schools to enhance the exhibit helping students understand point of view, expression of culture, and thinking through art.

  • The Portland Art Museum will establish a new exhibition and interpretation gallery to bridge the gap between museums and the large local Native American community through meaningful engagement. The project will encourage community participation with programming focused on Native American art and artistic practice from the perspectives of Native Americans and create a space of community engagement that also encourages deep thinking about contemporary issues in Native American culture.


Shared Traditions at the Munson-Williams-Proctor Art Institute

"Shared Traditions: Visual and Language Literacy" is a new program at the Munson-Williams-Proctor Art Institute for adult refugees learning English as a second language. To commemorate the anniversary of 9/11, MWPAI director Anna Tobin D'Ambrosio shared an observation on harmony among diversity, inspired by an artwork at the museum, from a Shared Traditions participant.  


Library Night at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art

From On August 1, the Westmoreland Museum of American Art and Westmoreland Library Network hosted Library Night at Westmoreland @rt 30, the Museum's temporary location during its renovation and expansion. The event, meant to foster art appreciation and a love of reading, featured an exhibition scavenger hunt as well as American Art bingo and a book art project. "The libraries and the museum are talking about doing more things together," said Karen Munson, the library network's system development coordinator. "It's a natural partnership." Pictures of the event are available on the Westmoreland's Facebook page.