Category Archives: Glenbow

events exhibits at the museum

Learning Gender

Last year, one of the very thoughtful Museum School parent volunteers let us know that some of our ways of speaking about gender were a bit… *historic* (sorry!) We really took that message to heart, and started exploring some of the ways that we talk about people and the roles we assign them, both today (in our teaching practice) and historically (in our teaching content).

As part of this learning journey we asked for some help – the Calgary Centre for Sexuality offers workshops for professional communities to understand gender and sexuality, and some of the ways that these topics are unknowingly (or knowingly) integrated into our work with story. The whole educator team at Glenbow joined in to learn more, and we also had some of the other Campus Calgary & Open Minds sites and team with us as well.

We’re all going to have to keep working on and thinking about gender until we create safer spaces for all students to learn in (there are just mountains of evidence to suggest that safety is integral to productive learning environments). This will require strategic large scale change, as well as personal choices. Sometimes we don’t feel like we have the power to really do some of the things that are necessary for change, (in our life, in our work, maybe in the world at large…I’ll try to come back to this idea in an upcoming blog post) but there are a few small things that each of us can do… Here’s some ideas for first steps…

  1. The Centre for Sexuality folks suggested that children become aware of gender around ages 3-4. This reminds us that when we’re working with students, they’re already aware of gender and interacting with it as a concept in many ways. We don’t need to be afraid that they’re too young for us to talk about gender, because children are already aware that they are living in a gendered world.
  2. Although we constantly make assumptions all day long (it’s a human survival tool, related to our beliefs and experiences), we can be thoughtful about the times we make assumptions, and the times we take a minute to ask for information instead. Creating a climate where asking is welcomed can begin with you. As an educator, sometimes I only have a minute to get students all the “housekeeping” info they need, but I always make time to introduce myself and tell the students what I want them to call me. It only takes a minute to let students know what pronouns I prefer to be called, and to let them know I’m interested to know their name and pronouns too.
  3. Another housekeeping thing that I always make time for is to share the location of our bathrooms. Our site doesn’t have any gender neutral bathrooms but I can let students know that it’s okay to use the bathroom they feel most comfortable in, or the one that matches their identity. This may go over a lot of students’ heads, but for students who are transgendered, it identifies me as an understanding adult, and our space as a safer one.
  4. Creating a safer space is about a lot more than just bathrooms though. We’ve started talking to other folks who work on the floor of our organization about all of us learning to be part of creating a safer space. We’ve also initiated some plans for signs (letting visitors know we’re working to be safer), and some discussions about other things we could do in our respective departments.
  5. When we talk about gender, we often do it kind of… sideways. Like, we’re not sitting down and saying “okay class, now we’re going to talk about gender!” rather, we’re talking about important content, and gender is part of that.  It comes up when I talk about cultural performance in West Africa, when I speak about Warrior history, and when I’m telling stories about our Mavericks. It comes up all the time, but I don’t think of it all the time. So that’s another thing to work on, just being thoughtful about the gendered expectations that exist in our stories and discussions. I believe that awareness will lead to better things.

 

Our facilitator for the workshop asked us how we feel about the word “guys” to refer to groups, and some folks said it was fine, but others felt that it could be interpreted as offensive. As an experiment, I counted the number of times I was referred to a part of a “guys” last week. In one day alone, it was 17 times. That really surprised me…(maybe give it a try yourself and see if it leads to any interesting thoughts or feelings?)

In that vein, one challenge that comes up a lot for us, is how to refer to a group of students without calling them “boys and girls” so here’s a list of ones we came up with:

  • Friends
  • Students
  •  Learners
  • Explorers
  •  Scholars
  • Empathizers
  • Scientists
  • Creative minds
  • Mathematicians
  • Artists
  • Problem Solvers
  • Creative Thinkers

Hopefully this is heading in a more helpful, kind, and considerate direction. Let us know your thoughts.

8 Websites to Start Your Year…

Hello!

I thought I would share some links that could help you get your year situated for big picture learning. These are resources that Marnie and I use often, and that we hope are useful – but as always, we’re open to feedback.

The connection between all these sites it that we hope you’ll check them out at the beginning of the year, and if they’re useful, maybe you’ll integrate them into your practice and preparation for the museum.

 Thinking Routines

The purpose of these is just to make it easy for your students to enter into a dialogue with an idea, piece of writing, object, or concept. There’s two enormous sites that have all kinds of thinking routines we like, the Artful Thinking Project from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, and an extension of that, the Project Zero webpage.

Museum Culture

Museum News from the Global Museum has all the most interesting world museum news listed regularly.

This website keeps tabs on museums across the globe. It’s new, so there’s still some bugs, but it’s a rabbit hole waiting to happen for sure.

Canada

World renowned for its impact on Indigenous people, and it’s origin story (the network started because peoples of the north took a stand and asked for  programming that reflected their culture and communities), Aboriginal Peoples Television Network has a great website. Contrasting their news section with other stations is always especially interesting. Like everything else in the world.. this channel is not universally liked.

The Virtual Museum of Canada is a great way to understand an exhibit without ever having to leave the classroom. If your students arrive with the understanding that an exhibit is like an overarching idea or story, and the pieces all fit together in some way, and by looking at them together you can learn so much more about each individual artifact… well you won’t even need us.

Glenbow

There are a few Glenbow sites that you might find useful over in the section for teachers. We also really encourage you to have a look at our main website to see our exhibit schedule and stay up to date on the interesting things happening here. If you regularly communicate with parents, you might remind them about our Free First Thursday program if their young folks are itching for another visit after their week.

You may also want to explore our collections. We’ve got a lot of interesting belongings and art here that can certainly supplement your work all year long.

Memory Sketch

Memory sketching is one of the thinking routines that we recommend getting your students used to before coming to the museum. Basically, you have them look at something, then later, ask them to sketch it.
You can work up to this by giving them an object to sketch, taking it away, and having them sketch immediately. This builds up the skill so students aren’t so intimidated when they’re tasked with drawing something they haven’t seen in a while.
Doing this helps them build skills in pattern and design element recognition. Also it takes some of the pressure off making exact sketches. Like most things we do, it’s helpful for you to lead by doing. Show them your messy abstract drawings of everyday things and they’ll know it’s okay to try.

book photo Journal drawing

Welcome Back!

Every year in fall we seem to write a post that goes something like… “wow fall again already…” which is partially about us being excited about a new year with you, and partially about us feeling guilty that all our big plans for the blog last year didn’t …. Ahem…. Materialize? (See how I made that objective there – took my own responsibility right out of the mix… museums can be good at that) ;)

Anyways… this year we’re going to try again.

Our aim with this virtual space is really just to share interesting things we’ve come across that we think may be of some use to your journey of your museum school year. But we know that you’re busy people, and we’re busy people, and we just don’t want to waste time putting out information that doesn’t seem useful. So… We’d love your help. Anytime you’ve got an interest in something that you think we could explore, do you mind letting us know? Perhaps an issue you’ve come across in classroom, or a topic you think we might have some knowledge about, or even just something related to arts and culture that you’ve always wanted to know? We won’t blow your cover – feel free to ask questions anonymously. Or on the flip side, maybe you want to be a guest blogger for us? This is a journey that we’re all on together. Just like in your classroom, the more voices that are here the more rich our learning together will be.

Looking forward to trying again this year & welcome back to school to you all!

Amanda

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Adrian Wolfleg, First Nations Educator

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Adrian has been our First Nations Educator for the past year but his history with Glenbow goes all the way back to his time as a volunteer docent in 1989. His background as a History Major as well as service with the military and a strong link to arts organizations means he is the perfect fit for sharing stories in almost every area of Glenbow!  His work as an educator in the Niitsitapiisini Gallery is layered with family connections.  His mother, grandmother, and aunts are all pictured in the gallery as well as objects and plants that he has used throughout his life.  For Adrian, this makes the space more like “home” than a gallery in a museum.

Alice and Rose Weaselhead, Siksika c.1948 During the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede Parade
Adrian’s mother and grandmother,Rose and Alice Weaselchild, Siksika c.1948 During the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede Parade

Adrian’s favourite part of the job of Museum Educator is sharing his interests and making the stories relevant and fun for students.  As a volunteer he learned sign language so that he could share stories with hearing impaired visitors.  He has an encyclopedic knowledge of movies and popular culture and he weaves this into his programs, using video game rules and rewards for learning about how different cultures meet their needs.

One of Adrian’s favourite objects is a shirt with the tadpole symbol on it.  The tadpole design speaks to overcoming adversity and accepting change.

Shirt Kainai, early 1900's elk hide, porcupine quills, natural dyes, weasel pelts Owned by Owns Different Horses.
Shirt Kainai, early 1900′s elk hide, porcupine quills, natural dyes, weasel pelts Owned by Owns Different HorsesIMG_3310

What would Adrian add to the Glenbow if he curated an exhibit? The answer to this shows the overlap between Adrian’s many interests.  He would include, as an extension of the Warriors exhibit on 4th floor, a gallery exhibition of photographs depicting Cemeteries from wars Canadians participated in and where thousands of Canadians remain.  This would be an ideal exhibition for Glenbow, honouring Military, History, First Nations and Art.

 

Marcia Slater - Oct 31 2013 - Small

Marcia Slater – Collections Technician

 

 

Marcia Slater - Oct 31 2013 - Small

Meet Marcia Slater.

Marcia is our Collections Technician in Cultural History.  She accepts, processes and looks after our Western Canadian History collection which has approximately 120,000 objects.  That is a very big job!  She loves history and the variety of this vast collection which continually allows for new discoveries, new stories and new things to learn.  An object that recently captured her interest is this ladies’ cigarette case with matching cigarette holder.People and things“It’s a beautiful set, in its own case, beautifully made, with just enough wear to show the owner used it.  It’s enamelled in peacock blue and very stylish, which reflects its era (1920′s) and belonged to a very interesting Alberta woman (Canada’s first female meteorologist).  It’s also interesting to consider it in the current context, in which smoking is becoming increasingly unacceptable.”

Marcia often takes Museum School students “Behind the Scenes” – maybe she will show you more of her favourites!

Glenbow's Pest Control Technician, Katie Fisher with the large deepfreeze.

Katie Fisher and Pest Control

Glenbow's Pest Control Technician, Katie Fisher with the large deepfreeze.
Glenbow’s Pest Control Technician, Katie Fisher with the large deepfreeze.

Katie Fisher is Glenbow’s in house pest expert.  A lifelong museum visitor, Katie wanted a job that involved objects and history, ideally something that was ‘hands-on’!  Museum Conservation fit the bill and a project in the migration habits of the carpet beetle brought Katie to the study of pests.  Preventing damage in a a museum is not just about insects.  Light and moisture can also destroy objects and the floods of 2013 were particularly horrible for some Alberta museums.  Katie was part of the Glenbow team of experts that helped the Museum of the Highwood recover from the flood.

Every object, whether it is on loan from another museum, a new or possible aquisition, or part of the collection returning to the museum must be checked for possible hazards.  If an object is suspected of carrying any stage of insects – it gets a stay in the deep freeze!  This specialized freezer can handle large objects and can be cooled to -30 degrees celcius.  Right now, in our small freezer, is a few tins of supplies from the McClintock Arctic Expedition of 1857.  Canned Ox Cheek Soup, anyone?

Frozen objects from the McClintock Arctic expedition cache of 1857
Frozen objects from the McClintock Arctic expedition cache of 1857

Though it is hard to choose a favourite from over one million artifacts, Katie has a soft spot for the wedding rings that belonged to John and Mildred Ware.  Like most of the objects in our collection, it is their story that makes them special.  John Ware was a cowboy and rancher that was born a slave and gained his freedom after the American Civil War.  He travelled to Alberta on a cattle drive to the Bar U ranch and stayed.  He married Mildred in 1892, shortly after starting his own ranch, and they had five children before Mildred tragically died in 1905.  John, never the same without her, died soon after.  Mildred’s wedding ring was lost until their original house was moved to its present site in Dinosaur Provincial Park and the ring reappeared in the foundation.  The rings are now together again at Glenbow.

Mildred Ware and the Wedding Rings from the Ranching Gallery at Glenbow
Mildred Ware and the Wedding Rings from the Ranching Gallery at Glenbow

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