Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Students show off their artwork created in Crystal Bridges' partnership with Life Styles, a non-profit that provides opportunities for adults with disabilities. Image courtesy of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Museums and Communities News is our roundup of stories demonstrating the myriad ways AAMD member museums serve their communities.  

AAMD Museums: We Want Your Stories! If you have a story you'd like us to consider for Museums & Communities News please contact Alison Wade.

Nursing Students Hone Diagnostic Skills at Fralin Museum
University of Virginia School of Nursing Students at the Fralin Museum of Art for a Clinician's Eye workshop. Image courtesy of the Fralin Museum of Art, University of Virginia
The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia has expanded its Clinician's Eye workshop to include classes in the School of Nursing.  In 2012-2013, Fralin Museum academic curator Jordan Love initially created Clinician's Eye, a highly interactive, two-hour workshop that uses art to improve apprentice clinicians' skills through visual analysis training, for the medical school at the university.  This partnership is one of many that have developed between art museums and medical schools around the country in the past decade. 

"While I've been thrilled at how many medical school students have participated in workshops with us, I have been particularly focused in partnering with faculty from the School of Nursing," said Love. The Fralin hosted the Nursing PhD students in fall and a class of nursing undergraduates this month. "It is heartening to see our Clinician's Eye program expand to include the University of Virginia's School of Nursing," commented Fralin Director Bruce Boucher. "The enthusiasm of these students is palpable, and it represents another way in which our museum can serve the University and the community at large."

In the workshop participants first work with figural representations or works emphasizing realism, with which they are often most familiar and comfortable, and practice visual analysis with imagery that offers recognizable objects.  As the workshop progresses, the participants are exposed to ancient and non-western art, and finally conclude with an exercise that requires them to engage with non-representational art created within the past fifty years.  In this way, their comfort level with art is stretched in a progressive mode. 

"One interesting characteristic stands out in the way nurses describe artwork to me.  More often than other groups, they use words that express mood and how the work makes them feel.  They are very in tune with their own emotions and those of others.  This workshop demonstrates their unique skill set," Dr. Love said.

Life Styles Effective Communication at Crystal Bridges
Launch students in the galleries at Crystal Bridges. Image courtesy of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
In 2015, the  Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and Life Styles, a non-profit organization that provides opportunities for adults with disabilities, created a program for students enrolled in Launch, a Life Styles program designed for young adults with disabilities who are looking for a collegiate-style experience that might not otherwise be available to them. 

Launch works on a semester system and offers educational opportunities on a variety of topics, from job interview skills to nutrition to art. The Crystal Bridges pilot is part of Launch's Effective Communications course, which focuses on quotes by notable individuals. Students interpret the quotes, debate their meaning, and discuss how they may relate to the students' personal lives.  Effective Communications students visit Crystal Bridges three times during the semester for two-hour sessions with their class.  Each session includes gallery and studio art experiences, facilitated by museum educators, that are based on quotes studied in class such as  "Life is not about finding yourself.  It is about creating yourself" (George Bernard Shaw).

Participants not only learn about art and art history, but also learn valuable life skills such as how to interact in various environments and how to communicate in a group setting. They are given program calendars and complimentary tickets to special exhibitions to encourage future participation at museum events outside of the collaboration.

Engaging Students Through Art and Food at the Mississippi Museum of Art
Mississippi Museum of Art Executive Chef Nick Wallace with students in the museum's learning garden. Image courtesy of the Mississippi Museum of Art
The Mississippi Museum of Art is using food as a pathway for engagement through its new learning garden, a partnership with the Jackson Public Schools, and more.

Last June, the museum opened the Payton CityFarm Learning Garden, an urban garden on Museum grounds that serves as an educational resource for Mississippi students and as an outdoor classroom for museum educators. The garden "is a source for ingredients but also an infrastructure that empowers educational programs that explore the shared themes of color, composition, material, and creativity that span both food and visual art," according to MMA Marking Director Julian Rankin.

The learning garden is at the heart of several of the museum's community partnerships, including ApronStrings, a one-week summer camp that teaches middle school students about cooking, fresh foods, and the value of shared meals. ApronStrings, which has run for the past two summers, is part of the museum's larger partnership with Operation Shoestring, a community-based organization located in Jackson that operates on the premise that every child deserves a chance at a promising future and that all families should have equal opportunities and access to tools necessary to improve and succeed.

In January, the museum and its Executive Chef, Nick Wallace, launched Creativity Kitchen, a partnership with the Jackson Public Schools to connect culinary arts, nutrition education, and creativity, and encourage healthy eating. Wallace, an alumnus of the Jackson Public Schools, will work with JPS food service personnel to create recipes that meet school requirements and promote healthy eating. The ultimate goal of the program is to expose students to a larger variety of healthy food choices so that they may become more informed consumers and educators of nutrition in their own communities.

"Visual art is represented not only by the objects in our collection, but also in the world around us," said Betsy Bradley, Director of the Mississippi Museum of Art. "At the Museum, we strive to draw connections between the art in our galleries and our own gardens...Creativity Kitchen pushes these ideas even further, beyond our walls and grounds and into the public schools, where it can have a wide reaching and lasting impact."

Deadline is MARCH 1!
Register Now for Smithsonian Institution's 
Museum Day LIVE: Inspiring Women & Girls of Color
Join hundreds of cultural institutions across the country on Saturday, March 12, 2016 for Museum Day Live! when the Smithsonian Institution celebrates a nationwide campaign to reach women and girls in underserved communities.

Held during Women's History Month, this special edition of Smithsonian's signature "Museum Day Live!" event will encourage all people, and particularly women and girls of color, to explore their nation's museums, cultural institutions, zoos, aquariums, parks and libraries-which will offer free admission for the day.

The deadline for your museum to register is March 1, 2016

To Provide Solace, Kalamazoo Institute Offers Free Admission
Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts announced it would offer free admission through the end of February following the mass shooting that occured in the city on February 20.

"We want people to know we support the community during this difficult time, and to understand how art can enhance well-being," KIA director Belinda Tate said. "We invite visits by those who are touched personally by this tragedy, and those who are, as we are, reeling from this kind of violence happening in our beloved Kalamazoo."

Dance for PD® Brings Movement to the Dallas Museum of Art
Dance for PD performance at the Dallas Museum of Art. Image courtesy of the Dallas Museum of Art
On February 19, the Dallas Museum of Art premiered the first Dance for Parkinson's Disease performance ever to be showcased in a museum gallery. 

Dance for PD provides internationally acclaimed dance classes that inspire participants to discover movement and music in ways that are revitalizing and gratifying. Pat Goukler, one of the Dallas dancers, said of her experience, "I don't have PD, but my husband does, so I do this with him. I've seen him develop a creativity that I hadn't seen in 48 years of marriage. He looks at a piece of art and interprets it with his body. It is phenomenal; he has developed rhythm. It has been a joy to watch him experience a new way of expressing himself through art."

The local Dance for PD class performed an excerpt of a dance called Falling Down Stairs from The Bourrée Project, featuring movement from one of Mark Morris's most distinctive works. Falling Down Stairs was created as part of the Inspired by Bach series that cellist Yo-Yo Ma made for Sony Classical. They also debuted original choreography by Misty Owens (one of the founding teachers of Dance for PD) that is inspired by works of art in the Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots exhibition at the DMA.

"The opportunity to collaborate with Misty has allowed the DMA to engage with people from the Parkinson's disease community in a way that we've never done before. The participants in the program are already focusing on movement, flexibility, and balance, which are essential to those with Parkinson's disease, but having the classes and performances in the DMA galleries enables them to connect their dancing to visual works of art, providing them another avenue of inspiration-a meaningful experience for all involved," said Interim Director of Education Amanda Blake. Family, friends, Museum staff, and patrons were invited to attend the inspirational performance.
Join Museums for All!
Museums for All is a new initiative, developed by our colleagues at the Association of Children's Museums and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, to offer free or reduced admission to visitors with Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards. Museums for All is a way to broaden a museum's visitor base, and reach out to underserved communities. 

Museums that register will offer individual admission fees ranging from free to $3.00 to individuals and families presenting EBT cards.  Other restrictions apply; click the link below to learn more.

We strongly urge US art museums to participate in Museums for All!

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