Posts Tagged 'families'



Friday Photos: Fun in the Sun!

Dallas had a *very* short break from stormy weather this week, just in time for our Homeschool Class for Families. After exploring landscape paintings by Frederic Church and Thomas Cole in the galleries, the class went outside to create their own scenic drawings en plein air (in the open air), using the Dallas Arts District as their backdrop!

What type of landscape masterpiece can you create using your own backyard as inspiration?

Danielle Schulz
Teaching Specialist

So What? One Question Evaluations at the DMA

tour

Almost all museums have programs for the public, in one form or another. These programs may fall under the fields of education, visitor engagement or interpretation, and may take the forms of drop-in workshops, ticketed lectures, in-gallery interactives or scheduled tours. Even within a single museum, these programs are diverse in their scope, varied in the spaces they take place, and wide-ranging in their scale. Furthermore, they differ in their intended outcomes, but more on that later.

Importance has been placed on growing different types programs for the public, as these can garner more attention from the community, increase overall attendance, and develop audiences. Oftentimes, this growth is approached by expanding programmatic offerings: increasing lecture topics, presenting more classes and workshops, or providing additional interactives in galleries. In these instances, growth is measured by quantity: “Well yes we serve our community, look how many programs we offer!” But I question whether this type of growth is positive for museums. Is expansion without reflection a good idea? I am inevitably reminded of the adage, “Less is more,” and wonder how this concept can be manifested in museum education programs.

The process of reflection and evaluation is an often overlooked step in program creation. Activities are designed, implemented, and either repeated (perhaps next week, or next month) or they are archived (if they’re lucky) for posterity. But rarely does someone stop and ask, “So what?” This question, seemingly harsh and unforgiving to some, or unimportant to others, is an invaluable asset to evaluation in my mind. It is a question that harks back to my time as a graduate student at The University of Texas at Austin in the Art Education department. My thesis advisor and Assistant Chair to the department Dr. Paul E. Bolin situated this question as an integral part of all academic research. Students would approach him with research proposals and he would answer, “Well yes, that does sound like an interesting study of this-and-that at the so-and-so institution, but so what?” This simple question produced its fair share of frustration, but also some very fruitful discussion about the field of art education. It caused us to reflect on how our intended research would impact or advance the discipline. It wasn’t enough for the topic to simply garner interest, it had to have purpose and intention; it needed to be able to stand on its own and answer, “This is why I exist.” Now, I am not proposing that every public program initiated by a museum or art institution should be held to the bar of furthering the field of art education (this would be rather difficult), but I do feel that every program should be accountable in providing a significant answer to this critical question.

As a department, the DMA’s Education team has spent many hours creating a mission statement that encapsulates our departmental practice, inevitably answering the So What question for ourselves. And during this process we have hit upon some key concepts that fuel our programs, the chief one being engagement. As educators, we aim to broaden and deepen engagement, and recognize that the DMA can influence the depth of one’s engagement, not by pitching more programs at our community, but by facilitating meaningful experiences in our current educational endeavors. But how can we know that these experiences are meaningful, unless we ask?

Our Education team is undertaking the evaluation process by implementing a series of one question studies that aim to pinpoint specific queries we as educators have about our public programs. The restricted format of this evaluation exercise is key, because evaluation can be a daunting task if approached too broadly. The one question design ensures that we concentrate on a single point—one program or interactive, one outcome, one bit of information that is important for us to determine. Just as the questions vary, so too do the methods of collecting data from visitors, ranging from written surveys, a post-it note response wall, and even a voting system using colorful pony beads. Below are preliminary looks into two different one question case studies we’ve begun.

CASE STUDY #1: YOUNG LEARNERS GALLERY (contributed by Jessica Fuentes)

Young Learners Gallery

The Young Learners Gallery, within the Center for Creative Connections (C3), is a space designed for children ages 5-8 and their caregivers. Over the past three years while much of C3 has changed—with the introduction of new artworks, art-making materials and gallery interactives—the Young Learners Gallery has gone untouched, because making changes to that space requires a complete redesign. Before undertaking such a task, the C3 staff want to learn more about families’ anticipated and actual experiences at the Museum.

We started with the prompt, “I bring my child(ren) to the Dallas Museum of Art Prompt signbecause…” posted on a wall in the Young Learners Gallery near a small table equipped with post-it notes and pencils. Unlike a survey, this method allows for open-ended responses that can later be categorized and analyzed while retaining the individual visitor’s voice. This analog system has been brought into the 21st Century through the development of the Post-It Plus App. With this app, instead of sifting through responses and later transcribing them in digital form, we can simply photograph the post-it notes and organize the digitized notes on a virtual board. The board can then be exported in a variety of formats including PowerPoint, Excel, and PDF.

We posted our question for a month and received 107 responses. The responses ranged from children’s drawings to eloquent statements expressing a desire to expose children to a broader world view. Because the purpose of this question was to gauge the caregiver’s motivations, we set aside the 26 children’s responses and the 4 irrelevant responses; however, we plan to use future questions to gather children’s input as well. The top three categories for why caregivers bring their child(ren) to the DMA is to get inspiration or foster creativity, to provide exposure to different cultures or broaden their world view, and because it’s fun.

As we plan the new Young Learners Gallery, we are keeping these findings in mind. For example, we have decided to include works of art in the space which currently is an activity area. The works of art selected will have a strong emphasis on culture and creativity. We also plan to create hands-on activities that address the developmental milestones of children aged 5-8 and provide opportunities for children and their caregivers to play, draw, and talk together about the works of art in front of them.

Now that we understand why caregivers bring their children to the DMA, we are in the process of posing more questions to learn what families actually do in the Young Learners Gallery. Understanding both expectations and experiences will help us develop a space that will meet a wider spectrum of caregivers’ and children’s needs.

totes45CASE STUDY #2: ART TO GO FAMILY TOTE BAGS

The DMA first offered activity-filled tote bags to families around this time last year, premiering during our January 2013 Late Night event. Each tote bag contains a variety of activities that encourage families to write, talk, play, or make while exploring the galleries together, the idea being to have fun with the art as a family. Since their public introduction last year, our Art To Go Family tote bags have grown to include many different themes: Senses, to help explore art through the five senses; Color, to explore art while thinking about colors; Family Fun, with activities designed by a family who frequently visits the Museum; and Arturo’s Library totes, designed for children under five years of age, which focus on a single work of art with an accompanying book and hands-on activity. These tote bags are available for check-out at our Family Fun Cart, located at the main entrance to the Museum, and are free to use by families anytime the Museum is open.

Initially, the Family & Access programs staff sought feedback on tote bags through individual paper surveys, presented to families once they returned tote bags to the Family Fun Cart. We found that very few of these surveys were returned, or even taken in the first place. During busy times at the Museum, those who coordinated checking bags in and out to visitors rarely had time to focus on handing out this extra survey to families, who for their part, were usually rushing to leave the Museum, and therefore rarely could spend extra time answering a two-page questionnaire. In this case, the one question evaluation was ideal not only because of its simplicity and accessibility, but also because of its straightforwardness. Unlike the above-mentioned project with the Young Learners Gallery, for the tote bags we were not looking for open-ended answers, at least not yet. While it is absolutely valuable to know whether or not visitors feel that the tote bags encourage a playful attitude towards looking at art, or if they are able to increase visitor confidence in looking at art with children, this is information that is best obtained in a second stage of evaluation, when we look at the specific effects of each activity and deem whether things should be modified or not. At this still early stage in the life of the tote bags, our team is really interested in the simple question of whether families are indeed using the tote bags during their visit, and where in the Museum they are being used. (This is our So What question.)

We designed our one question evaluation as a multiple choice prompt, which was added to the tote bag check-out sheet. We asked, “On Which Floor Did You Use the Tote Bag?” and invited visitors to check the box next to each area in which they used the bags—Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, Level 4—or, if they didn’t in fact use the activities in the bag, to check Did Not Use. Our hope was that including our one question evaluation on the check-out sheet, something that families were already using and thus familiar with, would increase the amount of feedback we received.

The updated check-out sheet has been in rotation for two months, and we have collected data for November and December 2014. On average, 52% of people who checked-out tote bags during that time responded to our evaluation, and of that total only 6% did not use the tote bag activities at all. While in the Museum, the respondents said they preferred to use the tote bags most on Level 1 (28%) and least on Level 4 (16%). Now, is this choice based on physical access (Level 1 is the same level on which the tote bags are offered, while Level 4 is farthest away) or related to the works of art available on each level (Level 1 is Contemporary art, Level 4 is American)? Now that we are beginning to better understand how much the tote bags are being utilized by visitors, and where in the Museum galleries they are being taken, we can start to pose these types of ancillary questions, that tap into deeper inquiries about visitor engagement.

Tour

The insight provided by these two studies hopefully demonstrates the importance of evaluation to both growing and expanding program development. These are just preliminary looks into initial studies, and we hope to have more one question studies, as well as data, on the horizon. In order to increase the effectiveness of our programs and spaces, museum educators need the input of our audience to better understand their level and scope of engagement. Reflection and evaluation, in the style of these one question studies or other formats, can facilitate this exchange of ideas in a positive and productive manner, providing a strong foundation for educators to answer the So What question for themselves, their institution, as well as their community.

Danielle Schulz
Teaching Specialist

Calling All Gumshoes!

Kids need to use problem solving skills on a daily basis, both at home and in the classroom. What better way to harness these skills than with some sleuthing in the Dallas Museum of Art galleries? Creative problem solving can be fun for both you and your child. Just think of what you can discover alongside your junior detective!

Develop into a problem-solving duo with the Modern Mysteries family guide, available in the Center for Creative Connections. Your little gumshoe will discover works of art in the galleries using careful observation, problem solving, and analysis of their findings–the same tools and techniques that real detectives use!

For example, the elements of design are the building blocks used to create a work of art. Some of the elements are LINE, COLOR, and SHAPE. Let’s investigate these elements at work in The Divers by Fernand Leger.

  • Find a squiggly, curvy, straight, rigid, and wavy LINE.
  • How many COLORS are in this painting?
  • What SHAPES can you identify?
  • Now that you’ve discovered these details, what do you think is happening in this painting?

juniordetective

 

There are many other mysteries to uncover in the European galleries with the Modern Mysteries family guide. And families who are part of DMA Friends can earn their Junior Detective Badge once their sleuthing is complete. So throw on your detective cap and polish your magnifying glass to embark on an art adventure here at the Dallas Museum of Art!

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Emily Wiskera
Graduate Education Intern

Artful Eggs

The Easter holiday is almost upon us, and I for one am so excited to decorate Easter eggs! I am proof of the fact that this festive activity is for children and adults alike. Moreover, if approached in the right manner, decorating Easter eggs can be downright artistic. Beautiful eggs don’t require expensive materials or a BFA–in fact, all it takes to create some slamming shell designs is inspiration, imagination, and a few items found around the house!

Step 1: Boiling the eggs. Boiled eggs stand up better to the treatment required to decorate eggs (dyeing, drawing, wrapping). Place eggs in a medium sized pot and add enough water to reach about an inch above the eggs. Bring water to a roaring boil, remove from heat, then cover eggs for 15 minutes. Drain water, and allow eggs to cool. (This step can be accelerated a bit by placing eggs in a bowl of water in the refrigerator).

Drying rack made with flathead pins and foamcore.

Drying rack made with flathead pins and foamcore.

Step 2: Preparing the materials. As I said, artful eggs require simple materials: newspaper, food coloring, spoons, tongs, glass cups or mugs, white vinegar, a small paintbrush, tempera paint, hot water, Styrofoam board, and flathead pins. Placing flathead pins in a grid pattern on foam board creates a great drying rack for dyed eggs.

To mix colors, place 2 tablespoons of vinegar and 2/3 cup hot water in your cup along with 3 drops of food coloring. Add more drops to darken the dye. This is a great (albeit stinky) way to review color mixing with kids–experiment and see what fun colors you can come up with!

Step 3: Finding inspiration. Inspiration can come from a variety of sources, but for this year’s batch I’d recommend using the DMA’s permanent collection as a muse. The Museum’s encyclopedic collection provides a wealth of ideas, and, who knows, you might gain some artistic insight during the art-making process! When choosing works of art I looked for bright colors, simple shapes and bold lines, as these would lend themselves well to my oblong canvases. Here are the four works I decided upon:

Step 4: Decorate! Before diving into your artistry, wipe each egg down with some vinegar (this will prepare the shell for the dyeing process).  It was interesting to use works of art that employed different decorative techniques.

  • The Matisse egg was first dipped into an orange dye for two minutes (increasing the amount of time in the dye will lead to a darker color).  After the egg dried, a small brush with tempera paint was used to add blue and green leaves and red berries.

splat

  • To create the neutral background of the Pollock, the egg was dipped into orange and then blue dye (about 10 seconds each). I was then able to perform my own version of action painting!  With my paintbrush I flicked, splattered and flung watered-down black, white and grey tempera paint onto the egg. (Action painting can get messy, so newspaper comes in handy!)
  • Rothko’s contemplative color duo was completed by dipping the bottom of the egg in the orange dye (for about 30 seconds) and the top in red (30 more seconds). The egg should be left to dry between each dip. The middle portion of the egg was not taped, since I think the frayed edge caused by the dye enhanced the Rothko-style.
  • Completing the Mondrian egg took a little tempera paint and patience! Who knew that painting a grid pattern onto a rounded surface isn’t the easiest thing to do. With the straightest lines I could muster, I painted Mondrian’s primary color scheme onto the clean, un-dyed surface of the egg. It took a few layers of paint (left to dry in-between) to achieve more opaque colors.

Step 5: Display and Enjoy! 

Artful eggs. L-R: Henri Matisse, Ivy Flower; Jackson Pollock, Cathedral; Mark Rothko, Untitled; Piet Mondrian, Composition with Large Blue Plane, Red, Black, Yellow, and Gray

Artful eggs. L-R: Henri Matisse, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Piet Mondrian

These artful eggs are too good to keep to yourself!  Share your masterpieces with us through Facebook, Twitter, Flickr or even post them here on DMA Canvas–we’d love to see your DMA inspired works of egg-art! Now that you’ve completed your artwork the real question emerges: which will taste better, a Matisse or Pollock deviled egg?

Artworks Shown:

  • Henri Matisse, Ivy in Flower, 1953, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation
  • Jackson Pollock, Cathedral, 1947, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Bernard J. Reis
  • Mark Rothko, Untitled, 1952,  Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated
  • Piet Mondrian, Composition with Large Blue Plane, Red, Black, Yellow, and Gray, 1921, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of Mrs. James H. Clark

Danielle Schulz
Teaching Specialist

Special thanks to Alex Vargo for her eggcellent work.

Anytime Activities: Family Fun Tote Bags

Anytime_ToteBags_edu21

Family Fun Tote Bags

As part of the DMA’s return to free general admission, the Education Division is creating a host of activities that can be utilized by visitors anytime the Museum is open.  The Family Fun Tote Bag is an anytime activity we are particularly excited about and eager to share with families.

Each tote bag is centered around a specific theme, like Color or The 5 Senses, and is filled with a variety of collaborative activities that are appropriate for children of all ages.  Activities fall under four categories–Write, Make, Talk, and Play–and therefore support diverse learning styles and cater to personal interests.

WRITE – Visitors interested in observation and reflection while in the galleries are invited to…

Family completing a writing activity in the American Art gallery.

Family completing a writing activity in the American Art gallery.

– Use their senses to write a poem about what they see in an artwork.

– Generate a Mad-Lib using sensory adjectives.

– Compose a postcard to a friend about a work of art.

– Create a narrative based on a work of art using story dice.

 

 

MAKE – For the family members eager for hands-on activities the tote bag encourages…

Creating with the Materials Grab Bag

– Sketching a work of art with mixed-up, wacky colors!

– Creating a 3-dimensional illustration by drawing on a styrofoam sheet.

– Using a viewfinder to focus on and sketch specific details of an artwork.

– Producing a unique, site-specific work of art in the galleries using the Materials Grab Bag.

 

 

TALK – Enthusiasts of discussion-based activities will enjoy…

Color mixing activity

Color mixing activity

– Working as a family to talk about a work of art using as many movement words as possible.

– Searching for a favorite color in at least three different works of art and explaining what you like about each.

– Using adjectives and sensory details to describe a work of art to a family member that has been blindfolded.

– Experimenting with mixing colors together using the color paddles, and describing what you see.

PLAY – Families with active learners will enjoy…

Playing a game in the galleries

Playing a game in the galleries

– Playing the card game Memory, with a colorful twist!

– Testing one another with brainteasers.

– Staging a game of charades inspired by the surrounding works of art.

– Following their noses to find a work of art that matches a smell jar from the bag.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The beauty of the Family Fun Tote Bags is each individual family member can design their own museum experience based on personal interest!  Families can explore works of art together by participating in collective games and writing activities.  Or, for more individualized learning, each member can choose and perform a different activity while still sharing the same space.

Working on separate Tote Bag activities

Working on separate Tote Bag activities

Exploring new activities together

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Family Fun Tote Bags are still in the testing phase, but they should be available soon for visitors to check out in the Center for Creative Connections–so keep an eye out for them on your next visit to the Museum!

Danielle Schulz
Teaching Specialist

Make Your Own Festive Holiday Ornaments!

Winter has always been my favorite season—it brings back cozy memories of home and the holidays. Growing up in Ohio, I loved how decorated homes would transform our neighborhood into a bright, festive place. Set against a background of snow, it was like a living Norman Rockwell painting.

To help rekindle that holiday spirit, here is a simple and fun way for you and your family to create ornaments together out of recycled materials from around your home!

Materials:
• Paper (patterned or construction paper, old drawings, book pages, posters, etc.)
• Scissors
• Hole puncher
• Ribbon, string, or yarn
• Stapler and staples
• Rotary trimmer or paper cutter (optional)

Instructions:
1. Using your rotary trimmer, cut the paper into strips; they can be any size you like as long as all the strips are the same (for reference, I used 1”x8” strips). If you don’t have a rotary trimmer cut the strips by hand using your scissors.

Materials

2. Stack an odd number of strips on top of each other—I find that seven to nine work best.
3. Find the top of the middle strip and stagger the rest of the strips stacked on top of and underneath it to create a pyramid shape. Staple the stack together to secure it.

Stacking

Stapling

4. Repeat the process at the other end of the ornament. The strips of paper will fan out, leaving you with a spire-like shape.

Bottom

Finished

5. To hang your ornament, punch a hole at one end and string a ribbon through it.

Punching Holes

Try using different colors combinations when you stack your strips of paper. Also, increasing or decreasing the distance that you stagger the strips will change the shape of your ornament. Experiment with different supplies to further embellish your ornaments such as glitter, paper edgers, or shape punches!

Group shot

Hanging

Have fun creating and have a happy holiday season!

JC Bigornia
C3 Program Coordinator

Texas Late Night

Howdy, y’all! This past Friday, the DMA showed folks a rootin’ tootin’ good time at our Late Night celebration of the Flower of the Prairie: George Grosz in Dallas exhibition. With a theme as big as Texas, you can bet that there was lots to do here at the Museum. With live folk bands playing in the Atrium Cafe and in the galleries, visitors could hear old-time, toe-tapping, traditional Texas music almost anywhere they went. Adult crowds could be seen gathering for tours of the exhibition and  surrounding the watercolor demonstrations led by artist Scott Winterrowd. Lectures, talks, and films throughout the night also kept the adults scurrying from one program to the next. Families had a rip-roaring time in the Center for Creative Connections studio constructing their own Dallas building to contribute to a three-dimensional city skyline. Also in C3, kids created Texas-inspired bandanas and participated in Yoga for Kids. To get a peek at all the festivities, check out the slide show below.
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One of my favorite moments from the night was bumping into a family I had taught during a Go van Gogh Summer Library Program. When I stumbled upon them, they were in C3 doing yoga and discussing what kind of building they would create in the studio. They excitedly told me all about going into the Flower of the Prairie: George Grosz in Dallas exhibition to see all of the works of art we had talked about during the Impressions of Dallas library program. “They know everything!” the kid’s impressed dad exclaimed. It is always a joy to see familiar faces in the Museum. To learn a little more about the Go van Gogh Library Program, check out Amy’s blog post from last week. Every participant receives a free family pass, which you could use at the next Late Night on August 17.

What was your favorite moment from the Late Night?

Hannah Burney
Go van Gogh Programs Assistant


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