Posts Tagged 'education'

Sensory Sensation

HyperFocal: 0

At the DMA, you can currently visit Divine Felines: Cats of Ancient Egypt, featuring works from the extensive holdings of the Brooklyn Museum. The appeal of an exhibition about both cats and ancient Egypt seemed like the perfect opportunity for the DMA to experiment with a multisensory interpretive space within an exhibition setting, essentially creating a satellite, smaller-scale Center for Creative Connections (C3). While C3 is an experimental space focused on innovative and diverse ways of interpreting a selection of DMA artworks, the Divine Felines Creative Connections Gallery is intended to contextualize the exhibition through a variety of interpretive interactives. In this space, visitors can step up to a listening station and hear tales of the Egyptian deities, sniff incenses that would have filled ancient temples, or see a real mummy and watch a film about mummification.

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This diagram shows the layout of the 1,600 square feet of gallery space at the back of the Divine Felines exhibition.

This educational gallery also provides DMA staff with insight into our visitors’ interests and preferences. The more we know about our visitors’ expectations and interests, the more equipped we are to provide them with meaningful gallery interactives. First, we keep track of the number of visitors who enter the Divine Felines Creative Connections Gallery and compare it to the total number of visitors to the exhibition. In October, nearly 70% of visitors to the exhibition entered the Creative Connections Gallery. And, interestingly, Thursdays saw the highest percentage of visitors entering the space.

Additionally, three days a week for two hours at a time, we observe visitors in the gallery to determine which activities they interact with and how long they engage within the space. To structure our observations, we created a tracking sheet (see image above) where we note participation in specific activities and the total duration of their visit to the space. Our system of tracking notes depth of engagement within an activity. For example, in relation to the short film about mummification we are curious to know if the visitor:

  • Reads the label outside of the film room.
  • Enters the film room.
  • Sits down on the bench.
  • Watches the whole film.

Finally, we ask half of the visitors we observe if they are willing to take a quick survey on an iPad. The questions we ask relate to visitors’ motivations for entering the educational space and what components visitors would like to see in future educational spaces.

So far, we’ve noticed a few interesting trends. In October, for example, the majority of observed visitors spent time looking at the mummy or Thoth sculpture and visited the scent bar. Here is the breakdown of how many visitors participated in each activity in October.
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Other data points to date:

  • Visitors spent an average of 10 minutes in the space.
  • Over 70% of visitors entered the gallery with a group; 30% were alone.
  • On average, visitors smelled 8 out of the 10 fragrances at the scent bar.
  • On average, visitors listened to 2 out of the 5 stories at the listening station.
  • Slightly more visitors picked up the all-ages self-guide than the family guide.
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*Note: Visitors were able to choose more than one response.

We would love your feedback, too. What educational tools would you like to see at the DMA?

Jessica Fuentes is the Manager of Gallery Interpretation and the Center for Creative Connections at the DMA. Andrea Severin Goins is the Head of Interpretation at the DMA.

Finding the Art in So SMAART

Head of Community Engagement Maria Teresa Garcia-Pedroche and I spent a Saturday afternoon with the So SMAART girls, a group of motivated young ladies aged 9-12 who are “Set on Science, Math, Aviation, Art, Reading, and Technology.” Since its beginning in 2000, the So SMAART program has impacted more than 900 girls from Dallas public schools through various mentorship and after-school activities, all of which prepare the students for careers in STEAM fields including science, math, and the arts. Serving as the girls’ mentors are members of the Trinity Chapter of the Links, Incorporated, a volunteer service organization led by women of color from the DFW area who founded So SMAART to address the lack of minority female students pursuing STEAM careers.

SoSMAARTSTAFF

Trinity Links and the DMA’s Community Engagement team

Throughout their visit, the So SMAART girls and their mentors explored the Center for Creative Connections, toured the African and Ancient American galleries, and created their own masterpieces in the Art Studio. These ladies demonstrated some of the ways the arts can impact and empower the next generation of scientists, engineers, curators, and everything in between:

  • Connect with Communities

The students and mentors contributed to an ongoing basket-weaving project, a response wall discussing personal traditions, and a larger-than-life drawing at the Interactive Gallery and Community at Large installation.

  • See Things Differently

Are those ordinary scraps of cardboard and twist ties, or are they the makings of the next Oldenburg? How does our presence change the way a space feels, functions, or sounds? Our visitors experimented with these and other queries at the Art Spot and the Young Learners Gallery.

  • Blast into the Past

Museum educator extraordinaire Amy Copeland and various DMA volunteers led the So SMAART girls through the African and Ancient American galleries, where they discussed the ways that past cultures and communities influence our current beliefs, traditions, and practices.

  • Make Your Voice Heard

As part of a national competition sponsored by The Links, Incorporated, the students channeled their creativity in the Art Studio to create posters raising awareness about nutrition and healthy habits. Isn’t it a bit easier to forgo the leftover Halloween candy when you’re looking at a solar system made of fruit?

Keep an eye out for these young ladies—we can’t wait to see where the arts will take them!

Paulina Lopez
McDermott Graduate Intern for Visitor Engagement

Friday Photos: Fair Day!

On October 7, the DMA Education Division took a small (and well-deserved!) break to explore the food, photography and fun at the State Fair of Texas! We really enjoyed the Creative Arts Exhibition Hall, and of course the crazy fried food concoctions. In honor of the Fair’s closing weekend, here are a few snaps from our day!

Madeleine Fitzgerald
Audience Relations Coordinator

FAST Times at the DMA

With each new exhibition at the Museum comes a jolt of excitement for our FAST (Family, Access, School, and Teaching programs at the DMA) team. Education programs at the DMA involve both the permanent collection and any special exhibitions, and a new exhibition means opportunities for exciting new lessons. Though our programming won’t focus on the newly opened exhibition Inca: Conquests of the Andes/Los Incas y las conquistas de los Andes until the fall, we can’t help but brainstorm some experiences we might create around the fantastic content inside. Here’s a look at some of the ideas we’ve got flying between our ears:

Family Programs
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For our littlest learners, from babies to our homeschool kids, we often begin our gallery portion of the program with story time connected to the lesson’s theme. To get thinking about camelids and their importance in Inca life, we’re eyeing one of Anna Dewdney’s Llama Llama books and will then explore objects like the llama-form vessel or llama-head whistle. The focus of the lesson could also be one of the exhibition’s remarkable tunics. We would follow the journey of camelid fibers, which we have on hand for tactile exploration, from their origins on a llama to their ultimate use, being woven into a wonderful piece of clothing. Our youngest visitors will then try their hand at a weaving project in the Museum’s Art Studio.

Access Programs
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For visitors with special needs, our class might focus on jobs in Inca society. Through an object like the tunic with checkerboard pattern and stepped yoke, we can connect the idea of the Inca soldiers who wore the tunic and the weaving specialists who made it to what we know of modern occupations or memories of jobs our participants had in the past. Different art projects would be appropriate for the two groups: with our visitors with intellectual and developmental disabilities, we might choose our Inca dream job and make wearable tunics for it using materials in the Museum’s Art Studio, and for participants with Alzheimer’s, we might take our time with a weaving project. We like to have a hands-on experience all participants can enjoy.

Go van Gogh
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Our Go van Gogh community outreach program involves a staff member and volunteers leading programs in classrooms throughout DISD. For an Inca-based program, we would pick 3–4 works to explore around a theme such as “what we wear,” which could include items like the sleeved tunic, poncho with central medallion and double-headed-birds, or four-cornered hat. For a related art project, the students may design their own tunics using some of the geometric patterns or animal imagery we discussed. We always have amazing works of creativity come out of our Go van Gogh groups!

School Tours
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Most teachers who sign up for school tours want their students to see as much as possible, so our wonderful docents choose highlights from all over the DMA’s expansive collection. Inca might only be one stop on a tour of five or six destinations in the Museum. Docents typically let the interests of the students lead the discussion: are they drawn to textiles or ceramics, ideas of Inca soldiers or animal imagery? Whichever it is, docents would be sure to show contextual images such as a map of the Tahuantinsuyu empire or an illustration of a ruler wearing a tunic. Though the stop is brief, the goal is to teach the students a little bit about another culture, while whetting their appetite so they return for more!

Make sure you take the opportunity to explore Inca: Conquests of the Andes/Los Incas y las conquistas de los Andes before it closes in November. In the meantime, the FAST team will be counting the days until we can explore the exhibition with our many audiences!

Liz Bola is the McDermott Graduate Education Intern for Gallery and Community Teaching and Jennifer Sheppard is the McDermott Education Intern for Family and Access Teaching at the DMA.

Friday Photos: FAST Fashion

On Wednesday, members of the Family, Access, Schools and Teachers (FAST) team were lucky enough to take an educational field trip to Denton to visit the Texas Fashion Collection (TFC), housed on the University of North Texas campus in the College of Visual Arts & Design. Curator and Director, Myra Walker, gave us a behind the scenes tour of the collection, which preserves and documents more than 15,000 items of historically significant fashion. The collection was first assembled in 1938 by Stanley and Edward Marcus, of Neiman Marcus fame, and exists today as an educational resource for students, researchers, and the general public who have a passion for great design and a love of fashion history.

During our visit, we walked through rack after rack of historical and designer clothing, dating from the 1840s up to contemporary times from designers like Chanel, Oscar de la Renta, and Betsy Johnson. Our visit concluded with a viewing of American Brides: Inspiration and Ingenuity, TFC’s current exhibition on view at the Patterson-Appleton Center for the Visual Arts. The exhibition included forty wedding gowns, dresses, and ensembles dating from 1840 to the present, which emphasized the various significant bridal traditions that were handed down through time and culture.

Our field trip was a wonderful experience and we were grateful to be able to play the role of student while visiting the amazing Texas Fashion Collection!

Danielle Schulz
Teaching Specialist

Meet the New McDermott Interns!

September brings the beginning of the new school year, (somewhat) cooler weather, and–most exciting of all–the new batch of McDermott Interns! As part of the Education and Curatorial Divisions, the McDermott Interns gain valuable experience while exploring museum work here at the DMA. The Education division is happy to introduce three fresh new faces to our blog-o-sphere: Amy Elms, McDermott Education Intern for Visitor Engagement; Hayley Prihoda, McDermott Education Intern for Gallery and Community Teaching; and Amelia Wood, McDermott Education Intern for Family and Access Teaching.  These lovely ladies will be writing many posts throughout the coming year so we wanted to give them a fitting introduction!

Amy Elms
McDermott Education Intern for Visitor Engagement

amy

I earned a BS in Communication Studies from the University of Texas at Austin and an M.Ed. in Culture & Curriculum focusing on Art Education & Visual Culture from Texas A&M University. Besides interning at the Austin Children’s Museum and Artpace San Antonio, I spent the past two years regularly volunteering with the Harry Ransom Center on the University of Texas at Austin campus. I love to explore the outdoors, especially hiking and swimming. I have a newly discovered love of stand-up paddle boarding, and want to take a rock climbing class in the future!

Which area of the DMA’s collection are you most excited about exploring? 

Cornelis Saftleven, College of Animals, 1655

The DMA’s Asian art collection dates all the way back to the 2nd century and I am amazed by the intricate details that are still so evident in each work of art, whether it’s a sculpture or a woodblock print. While exploring the museum’s galleries recently, I also came across Cornelis Saftleven’s College of Animals and loved the humor and symbolism of the painting. I want to learn more about the meaning behind each one of the animals represented in Saftleven’s work.

Which program or area of the Museum are you most interested in learning about? 

I’m definitely excited to learn more about the Center for Creative Connections since this learning environment will be the focus of my internship. I’m a huge supporter of museums that create innovative, interactive programs to encourage visitors to become more connected with exhibition materials. C3 offers programs and activities to people of all ages and explores ways of using technology to create a more immersive, memorable experience for visitors.

What features of Dallas do you want to experience during your time here?

Besides exploring all of the museums that DFW has to offer, I also really want to visit the Dallas World Aquarium and the Dallas Arboretum & Botanical Garden, I’ve heard that both places are a must-see during my time here!

Hayley Prihoda
McDermott Education Intern for Gallery and Community Teaching

Hayley

I was raised in Cary, Illinois, a northwest suburb of Chicago. My mom was a stay-at-home mom when I was growing up and persistently, even sometimes to my sister’s and my dismay, brought us to museums, art galleries, musicals, and cultural events. At the time, I didn’t know how much this early exposure to the art world was going to direct my future interests and career aspirations. In the spring of 2012, I studied abroad in London and had the amazing opportunity to intern at the Royal Academy of Arts. After this experience, my aspiration to work in an art museum was solidified. I graduated from Indiana University with a BA in history and minor in art history this past May and spent the last two months as an intern at the National Gallery of Art.

Léon Frédéric, Nature or Abundance, 1897

Which area of the DMA’s collection are you most excited about exploring? 

I am very excited to spend time with the European and American art collections. One of the pieces that first caught my eye in the collection was Léon Frédéric’s Nature or Abundance. I like the colors and intricate details of the work but, most of all, I like the implications of this piece as a statement on the industrialization of the late 19th century. I really enjoy placing works of art in their historical context and using this background as a platform for studying the piece.

Which program or area of the Museum are you most interested in learning about? 

I am very excited to work with the docent program this year. Having spent only one day with the docents thus far, I am already inspired by their passion for the DMA and the pride and enthusiasm they have for their position. I just hope that I can teach them as much as I know they will teach me!

What features of Dallas do you want to experience during your time here?

Being brand-new to Texas, I am really looking forward to embracing all that this area has to offer! Fall is my favorite season and I have heard that October is an especially fun month in Dallas, so I hope to attend the Lamar Street Festival, The Aurora Project, and Index Fest 2, all in the same weekend!  And I am also hoping to fit in a Dallas Cowboys game and a trip to the Texas State Fair! I feel very grateful to have landed this position at the Dallas Museum of Art and greatly look forward to what the next 9 months have in store!

Amelia Wood
McDermott Education Intern for Family and Access Teaching

amelia

I grew up in North Adams, a small town tucked away in the valleys of western Massachusetts. The opening of Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in 1999 not only transformed my hometown but sparked my interest in arts education. I graduated from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts with a BA in Fine and Performing Arts in 2006. After college, I embarked on a career in early childhood education in Burlington, VT, where I took part in the Vermont Child Care Apprenticeship Program. I returned home in 2010 and continued my work in early learning as a toddler teacher at the Williams College Children’s Center. During my final year at the children’s center, I designed a bridge program that organized visits for the center’s preschool and school age children to the Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA). In 2012, I joined the fantastic team at WCMA as the Coordinator of Education Programs and found my calling.

Which area of the DMA’s collection are you most excited about exploring? 

Jess, Arkadia’s Last Resort; or, Fête Champêtre Up Mnemosyne Creek, 1976

I’ve recently gotten back into collaging, so I am most excited by the collage and assemblage artists in the DMA’s contemporary art collection. I’d be thrilled to spend some time with any of the works by Joseph Cornell, Louise Nevelson, Robert Rauschenberg, and Jean Tinguely. And I was  psyched to discover that the DMA owns Arkadia’s Last Resort; or, Fête Champêtre Up Mnemosyne Creek by Jess, who is one of my recent artist inspirations.

Which program or area of the Museum are you most interested in learning about?

During my internship, I’m looking forward to working with children of all ages in the Museum’s early learning classes, family and access events, and Late Night programs. I’m also interested in working with the Go van Gogh school and outreach program, as well as the hands on art-making experiences offered in C3.

What features of Dallas do you want to experience during your time here?

Because I’m new to Dallas–and to city life in general–I’ve enjoyed taking in the sights and sounds of my new home. The Dallas Arts District is an area of interest to me and I look forward to delving into Dallas’ vast arts community in the coming months. I’m also an avid runner, and am training for the Dallas Marathon in December, so I look forward to exploring the downtown area during my long runs.

Special thanks to Amy, Hayley and Amelia for the illuminating information. Keep an eye out for all the great posts and programs these ladies will be sharing with us throughout the year!

Artworks shown:

  • Cornelis Saftleven, College of Animals, 1655,  Dallas Museum of Art, The Karl and Esther Hoblitzelle Collection, gift of the Hoblitzelle Foundation
  • Léon Frédéric, Nature or Abundance, 1897, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O’Hara Fund
  • Jess, Arkadia’s Last Resort; or, Fête Champêtre Up Mnemosyne Creek, 1976, Dallas Museum of Art, General Acquisitions Fund

Danielle Schulz
Teaching Specialist

Friday Photos: Until Next Time!

Wow! I cannot believe my time as a McDermott Intern is over! I would like to thank the Eugene McDermott Education Fund for providing this incredible opportunity. Through this experience, I have come to value the creative and fast-paced environment of museum education. I am especially gratefully for the opportunities to teach a summer art camp and test the Art Babies program. I may have to start my own children’s book collection because I enjoyed Story Time in the Galleries so much! It has been a pleasure to learn from and work with such dedicated educators at the DMA. Thank you to the Family, Access, and Schools Team for your patience and support, you ladies do an amazing job!

Here are a few of my favorite photos from the internship.

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Holly York
McDermott Intern for Family Experiences


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