Museums and Communities News
May 2015


Active duty military members take part in the ArtOASIS program at the Mueusem of Contemporary Art San Diego

Museums and Communities News 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.

Teaching Empathy through Reynolda House's Love & Loss

Reynolda House Museum of American Art is featuring works from the Museum's collection by artists responding to a major loss in their life. The exhibition, Love & Loss, has sparked an uncommon collaboration with local medical and healthcare community in how to use art as a tool for relating to patients and families experiencing a loss. The collaboration includes intensive workshops for healthcare professionals focusing on patient empathy and compassion during end-of-life care as well as improved diagnostics and patient communication.


"We've become increasingly aware in medicine that integration of the right and left brain is really important in terms of compassion and empathy," said Steven Block, the senior associate dean for faculty affairs at Wake Forest School of Medicine. "People who have the opportunity to think beyond the technical and the scientific are much better physicians in terms of communications."


Public gallery conversations are also a part of Love & Loss. A small journal in the gallery has encouraged visitors to share their responses to love, loss, and the works of art in the gallery.  View a Vine of some of the responses here.


Read more about Love & Loss at Reynolda House and the museum's collaborations with local medical institutions (including feedback from healthcare professionals) in the Winston-Salem Journal and on AAMD's website. Love & Loss is on view through December 13, 2015.




Kathleen Hutton, Director of Education at Reynolda House Museum of American Art, facilitates a workshop with neonatal healthcare professionals. Image courtesy of Reynolda House Museum of American Art.


Walters Art Museum and Morgan State University Announce Partnership

From The Baltimore Sun: On April 27, the Walters Art Museum and Morgan State University announced a multi-year partnership between the two Baltimore anchor institutions. "We hope that this partnership will allow us to use the arts to help unify the city, said Morgan president David Wilson. The partnership between the Walters and Morgan State, a prestigious HBCU, will likely include research, exhibition and course development, and exhibitions. "I want all the best people of all abilities and races and classes to be part of the Walters," museum director Julia Marciari-Alexander told the Baltimore Sun. "I want them to be our staff and visitors and donors and volunteers." 



ArtOasis for Combat Troops at MCASD

From the MCASD blog: The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego has worked in partnership with Combat Arts, a local nonprofit organization that provides art experiences for combat troops, to create San Diego ArtOASIS - a comprehensive art-based program to support the recovery of active military personnel overcoming Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Through the ArtOASIS program, the Museum offers a series of private gallery tours and weekly art-making workshops that culminated in a publicly presented and celebrated showcase of the participants' artworks on Thursday, May 14 at MCASD La Jolla.


Throughout the partnership, MCASD's Education Curator Cris Scorza, local artist Perry Vasquez, and artist and Combat Arts Founder Elizabeth Washburn have worked with military psychologists and recreational therapists to establish constructive dialogs through process-oriented art workshops with PTSD patients.


Learn more about ArtOASIS through a conversation with Scorza, Vasquez, and Washburn on MCASD's blog.

Marine Sgt. Jimmy Ochan and his son William enjoy their visit to the Phillips Collection at the 2015 launch event for Blue Star Museums.

Blue Star Museums is here

On May 20, the 2015 season of Blue Star Museums launched at The Phillips Collection. TPC is one of many AAMD museums offering free admission to active military and their families between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Blue Star Museums is a partnership between the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and more than 2,000 museums across America.

AAMD is proud to be a Blue Star Museums partner! 

Not signed up? It's not too late!

Even if you offer free admission to everyone, it's important to register for Blue Star Museums so active duty military and families can find you!

Seattle Art Museum's Tours for the Visually Impaired

From KUOW: Seattle Art Museum docent Suzanne Ragen has led tours at SAM for 50 years; included in her repertoire are the museum's ACCESS tours for the visually impaired. Ragen led her first tour in 2007; she uses metaphors, comparisons, and whatever she can to describe the artworks - and the museum - for the group. She has learned how to give more effective tours by asking participants for input; they like to hear not only a description of the artworks but also the galleries themselves. "Some of our visitors never had sight, they don't have a memory of color, so how do you describe what blue, sky blue is?" Click here to read the full KUOW story and hear Ragen describe several works of art from the Seattle Art Museum. 



After Hours Studying at the Zimmerli Museum of Art at Rutgers University. Image courtesy of the Zimmerli Museum of Art.

Zimmerli Museum Hosts All-Night Study Marathon

The Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University offered its first Study After Hours during the university's reading days, an initiative that was welcomed by students who sought out new spots to study before finals began. Located on the state university's New Brunswick campus, the Zimmerli provided such necessities as tables, chairs, electrical outlets, and Wi-Fi in the lobby and several galleries beginning the morning of Wednesday, May 6.


The museum remained open overnight, offering free beverages and snacks, as well as a table full of art supplies for students to be creative during study breaks. While most of the 276 students arrived by 1 a.m., they continued to trickle in through the early morning hours until the event officially ended at 9am on Thursday. About a dozen remaining students then headed off for the first day of final exams.


Zimmerli staff promoted the event through flyers, social media, and various university departments. The news then continued to spread by word of mouth. A number of students mentioned it was their first visit to the museum and expressed interest in returning to spend more time viewing the artwork and attend other events in the future.


"We very much wanted to serve our students and their academic goals and received very positive feedback," noted Marti Mayo, the Zimmerli's interim director. "We were inspired by the exam time study programs at several other AAMD academic museums and our staff was very impressed by the grateful comments of Rutgers students. They appreciated the alternative to crowded libraries and noisy public spaces around campus that they otherwise frequent. They liked having the simple refreshments we provided in our lobby, and had fun making clay sculptures and paper collages during their study breaks. The three most frequent comments were: Any more coffee? Will you please do this again next year? Thank you for doing this for us!"


Indianapolis Museum of Art Will Open a Preschool

The Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) will offer a preschool for 3-to 5-year-olds through a partnership with St. Mary's Child Center, and early childhood education non-profit. The program's goal is to support half of the students with full scholarships subsidized through grants and/or voucher support. The preschool will open in August.


St. Mary's Child Center will provide program oversight and administration, teaching staff, and a curriculum following the Reggio Emilia approach, which uses art-focused experiences and emphasizes collaboration, critical learning, expression, and immersive experiences. The IMA will offer classroom space and access to museum's campus, including exhibitions, collections, historic buildings and nature park, as well as assistance with fundraising. The IMA will also provide free memberships to students and their families for one year. Read more about the IMA's preschool in the Indy Star


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