The ideas of experimentation and radicalism live under a worldwide umbrella of cultural institutions. Social practice, community engagement, and the very meaning of the act of teaching are often part of the research pool we use to consider the responsibilities of cultural institutions in their attempts to provide aesthetic experiences. When we talk about experimentation, are we all operating by the same definition?
Posts tagged ‘Education’
As urban sociologist Robert Park wrote, the city is “man’s most consistent and on the whole, his most successful attempt to remake the world he lives in more after his heart’s desire.” However, how aware are we of our right to reinvent the city, and not just access what is presented to us? How much more creative and human-centered could we be when rethinking the processes of urbanization?
When you’re at a museum, how often do you have the impression that “freedom reigns,” or that you can “create anything?” Or have you ever experienced the sense of belonging to a larger community wherein people “from very different backgrounds and places…feel that there is something that can unite [them]?” We believe it is essential to nurture these opportunities through our educational initiatives, such as MoMA Studio.
As someone who develops programs and resources for families, I often think about the role of adults during a museum visit. In MoMA Art Lab: Places and Spaces, our interactive space, we are sensitive to the fact that each family has their own way of relating to one another, which might change from day-to-day. Some caregivers read a book while their child builds a tower on the floor; others might work with their child to design a structure at the art-making table;
In 2014, MoMA’s education, curatorial, graphic design, exhibition design, and marketing departments collaborated to develop an interactive learning space adjacent to the exhibition The Paris of Toulouse-Lautrec: Prints and Posters. This is the third interactive space we’ve developed in relation to an exhibition, following the success of Performing John Cage and the Polke Pop-Up Activity Space. This café-like space offers activities and resources to connect participants with Lautrec’s life and artistic process using both unfacilitated and facilitated approaches.
This past May and June, MoMA’s Education and Research Building mezzanine was the site of MoMA Studio: Breathe with Me, an interactive space that explored the intersections between art, therapeutic practice, and the ways in which we relate to objects and people through physical encounters.
If you happen to visit the exhibition Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963–2010 on Tuesday afternoons you will notice something different: the sight of Museum visitors making art inspired by Sigmar Polke’s processes, in close proximity to his works of art. This shift toward more hands-on learning experiences is not something that happened overnight.
On July 7, we launch Art & Activity: Interactive Strategies for Engaging with Art, a new Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). The course is part of an ongoing partnership with MOOC provider Coursera, to provide free professional development opportunities for K–12 teachers worldwide.
We are entering the fourth week of MoMA Studio: Breathe with Me and want to share some of the highlights of the artist-led workshops that have activated the space so far. Each one revealed the ways in which Lygia Clark’s work continues to resonate with contemporary artists and their hopes to engage the public in experiences of art that are physical and social in nature.
One thing you’ll never hear me say about working in MoMA’s Department of Education is “I’m bored.” In fact, what I love most about my role as a researcher and evaluator in this department is the constant interest on the part of my colleagues to experiment, innovate, and try new things. There’s always the desire to find ways to improve and/or to assess the current offerings. No one is ever comfortable with just leaving things as they are. It’s this collective dynamism that drives a lot of what the Department of Education does.
Recently, two of my colleagues in Family Programs expressed interest in trying out some iterations of their successful Tours for Fours program to see what tweaks would make that experience even more engaging for four-year-olds and their caregivers. Kristin Roeder, one of our amazing MoMA educators, was also keen to be a part of the experimentation and came up with variations on the more typical Tours for Fours tours. All of us were interested in looking at length of tour, number of works included, art works chosen, theme, activities, and variables in the group (size, ratio of children to adults, inclusion of younger siblings, etc.) to see if there was an ideal mix for this particular age group. In February we tried out three different variations of MoMA’s Tours for Fours.
Using Materials and Techniques as a theme and focusing on artists’ gestures, the three variations were:
1) Comparing and contrasting two works in the galleries
2) Focusing on one work in the galleries and doing a complementary activity in the classroom
3) Engaging with three works in the galleries and receiving a related activity at the end that families can do together at MoMA
Each of these was documented through observational notes and photographs. Prior to the start of the tour, I collected e-mail addresses from parents so that we could send a follow-up survey to find out what they thought about their experience. Following each tour, Family Program staff, the lead educator on the tour, and myself sat down to debrief (what worked, what didn’t) and to consider what might be worth trying going forward.
What we know so far based on observations, educator reflections, and feedback from parents is that:
• Tours should include at least three works during the 45 minutes. Adults expressed an interest in exposing their children to a variety of works and four-year-olds lost interest if too much time was spent on one work. For future iterations of this tour we may experiment by including four or five works during the 45 minutes.
• Including works that are familiar and unfamiliar to most adults is a good way to keep families engaged
• Themes that inspire curiosity and enable families to get into the head of the artist/be an artist are really effective (e.g. gesture)
• Hands-on activities are appreciated and present teaching opportunities that children will not only enjoy, but also remember
• For gallery-based programs like Tours for Fours, activities that take place in the galleries are best as getting to the classroom and getting an activity underway takes too much time away from the tour; families also expect to be in the galleries as classrooms do not offer the unique or immersive experience they are looking for
• Involvement of the adult caregivers is key to a successful tour; ideally, adults and children should be thinking and talking about art together
• Younger children (particularly siblings) who come along on the tour often distract the four-year-olds and/or cause disturbances that upset the tour, however we realize that families generally like to stick together so we need to find more effective ways of addressing these realities
• Providing a little activity for families to take away at the end of the tour is an appreciated gesture, and for families that do the activities it really adds to their time at MoMA
In March, we are planning to test out more variations of Tours for Fours. We hope that this loop of iterative testing will help us create a tour that best matches the needs and abilities of four-year-old visitors (and their adult caregivers).
Have you been to a MoMA Tours for Fours program? We’d love to hear from you!
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