Museums and Communities News
June 2015


Arte en Español, the Aspen Art Museum's recent free family day presented entirely in Spanish. Image courtesy of the Aspen Art Museum

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.

Aspen Art Museum Hosts All-Spanish Speaking Arte en Español Day

Last month, the Aspen Art Museum offered its second family-oriented Arte en Español. Presented entirely in Spanish, the event more than quadrupled in attendance size from its initial iteration, reaching around 300 participants. The AAM provided gallery tours in Spanish, family art-making activities, food, and a live band on the rooftop-all for free.


Following the activities and tours, parents and children moved to the roof-deck to enjoy free food and beverages while listening to a local live band. Although many of the children had attended school tours and workshops at the museum, many of the adults had never visited the year-old building.


AAM's Learning Director, Michelle Dezember, attributes the success of the event in large part to the partnership with the local Spanish-speaking radio station, La Tricolor. Both the museum and radio station promoted the event on-air, through social media, and by word of mouth. One adult attendee approached Dezember to express how much she and her children enjoyed the event, explaining in Spanish that this was her first time in the museum despite living in the area.


"It was so powerful to hear she has never engaged with the museum prior to this event, and we broke down a barrier of entry" said Dezember. "Some people wanted specific academic knowledge, some people wanted family activities, and others just wanted to come to the Aspen Art Museum, and this event seems to speak to making that a reality for those who may not have come before. It's about finding how to speak to someone in their language-whether that language is food or dance or music." 



These first-grade students created a replica of the Jule Collins Smith Museum in their school. Here, they're pictured with museum staff!
Image courtesy of the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Arts, Auburn University


Students Create Replica of Jule Collins Smith Museum

An Auburn, AL first-grade class recently created a replica of the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Arts, Auburn University (JCSM) for a school project. Auburn Early Education Center (AEEC) students selected JCSM as their subject and then re-created the museum's entrance, artwork and museum shop. While making the replica students alsolearned about the museum and its collection, such as how a 2,000 pound Dale Chihuly sculpture was created and installed. AEEC hosted a tour of the replica for museum staff as well as the students' families. The students "wanted to make the entrance with bricks, sign, reflecting pool and the sculptures, Spinoff [by Jean Woodham] and Amber Luster Chandelier [by Dale Chihuly]," said first-grade teacher Jamie Mitchell. "The students hung labels of what they've learned throughout the exhibition, and [acted as] as guides for the exhibition." Read more about AEEC's replica of the museum (including impressions from museum director Marilyn Laufer) on  JCSM's website.  


Art and Science Come Together for Plains Art Museum Teen Internship

From KVRR: For the second year, the Plains Art Museum offered the Buzz Lab Teen Internship, a paid internship for Fargo, ND area teens interested in art and science. The interns worked on transforming the Plains Art Museum's site into a "sustainable urban landscape" and learned about the importance of bees and other pollinators to agriculture and plant life. The Buzz Lab Internship is part of the Plains Art Museum's project Defiant Gardens for Fargo-Moorhead, a network of artist-designed landscapes and public art. See interviews with some Buzz Lab interns at KVRR. Learn about the Plains Art Museum's artist-designed Pollinator Garden here.

Museums: pARTners in Learning 2015
For the third time, AAMD presented an exhibition of student artwork created in museum-school partnerships from member museums at the U.S. Department of Education. Learn more below and at

Museum educators and Department of Education staff practice exponents through a Man Ray-inspired arts integration activity designed by The Phillips Collection's education team at the Museums: pARTners in Learning 2015 opening. Image courtesy of the U.S. Department of Education.

Department of Education: 
Museum-School Partnerships a Model for Learning

The U.S. Department of Education featured Museums: pARTners in Learning 2015 on the Department's blog, HomeRoom. "Today's art museums are forming partnerships outside their institutions to educate, expand their reach - and broaden their impact," writes Nancy Paulu from the DoE Office of Communications and Outreach. The post describes the opening ceremony and some of the museums and programs featured in the exhibition. The full article is available here.



Frist Center Students Host Pedestrian Safety Forum for Nashville Leaders

One of the projects featured in Museums: pARTners in Learning 2015 continues to have broad impact on its community. The Frist Center for Visual Arts' Stop. Take Notice! is a program for teens that promotes art's ability to create social change. As an outcome of Stop. Take Notice!, a group of Hume-Fogg Magnet School students hosted a community forum on pedestrian safety, one of the issues tackled in the project. The panel included current Nashville city leaders as well as mayoral and city council candidates. Stop. Take Notice! students chose to focus on pedestrian safety after Hume-Fogg student Elena Zamora was killed while crossing the street near the school. Read more about the pedestrian safety forum at Channel 5 and The Tennessean.


As part of Stop. Take Notice!, students from Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet High School raised awareness about driver and pedestrian safety through collaborative art-making, including stenciling, spray-chalking, and stickering several downtown intersections. 
Image courtesy of the Frist Center for Visual Arts

Yale Center for British Art Summer Teacher Institute

The Yale Center for British Art's Summer Teacher Institute is an annual program that helps teachers incorporate visual literacy into their regular classroom practice. The four day intensive program includes lectures, discussions and workshops by university faculty and museum educators. Teachers learn skills such as facilitating object-based discussions and how to organize thoughts stimulated by an art object.


"Literacy is broad, it doesn't just mean phonics, or reading and writing, but the modes of communication that our culture has developed," says Yale Center for British Art  Associate Curator of Education Cyra Levenson. "We know from brain research that vision is one of the most dominant senses. Kids automatically draw, they don't need to be taught to represent their world visually." School curricula often prioritize text over image, and the Summer Teacher Institute aims bring the visual back to the classroom. When learning from images, Levenson says, "People get connected - they remember things they hadn't thought of, they expand their vocabulary, they come alive." By focusing on teaching these skills to teachers, the program can have a broader impact, as teachers bring these new skills to many classes of students.


The Summer Teacher Institute also wants teachers to get comfortable in the museum setting so they can impart that to their students, too. Not everyone "automatically feels comfortable in the museum, or even if they do they might not know where to start," Levenson says. "Teachers can't provide engaging learning experiences for their students in museums if they haven't had them themselves."


Learn more about the Summer Teacher Institute and other teacher programs at the Yale Center for British Art website. You can also learn more about YCBA's visual literacy initatives in this video.



Oakland Museum of California director Lori Fogarty Challenges Cleveland Museum of Art Director Bill Griswold
Oakland Museum of California director Lori Fogarty Challenges Cleveland Museum of Art Director Bill Griswold

Oakland-Cleveland Museum Wager Benefits Community

In celebration of their respective teams reaching the NBA Finals, the Oakland Museum of California and The Cleveland Museum of Art made a friendly wager for the benefit of their communities. The museums bet that the losing team's local museum would sponsor access and an art experience at the winning team's museum. (See video of Oakland Museum of California director Lori Fogarty challenging Cleveland Museum of Art director Bill Griswold above!) Because the Golden State Warriors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers to win the NBA Finals, The Cleveland Museum of Art is sponsoring 100 kids from the YMCA of the East Bay to visit the OMCA. Read more about the #MuseumWager on Storify, and in the East Bay Express and The Plain Dealer


Meadows Museum Offers Free Admission to Police and Fire

In addition to participating in Blue Star Museums, the Meadows Museum has announced that as part of their 50th anniversary celebrations, police and fire department personnel and their families will receive free admission to the Meadows Museum through the end of 2015. "Providing free admission is a way of thanking members of the military and police and fire departments and their families for the many sacrifices they make," said Mark A. Roglán. Read more on the Meadows Museum website.



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