Category Archives: Museums

general museum interest

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

IMG_2810

DSCF2529

Three Weeks/One School

We have been working with some new formats the last couple of years.  Originally, Museum School was unofficially limited to no more that two classes from one school within one school year.  This had practical reasoning behind it – reach as many schools, teachers and students as possible within the available 28 week year.  Open Minds serves two purposes, student learning and teacher professional development and in the early days, the shotgun approach spread this through the community.   Well, 20 years later, schools have changed, the methodology in the classroom now mirrors (for the most part) what we are trying to accomplish in the museum – student driven, inquiry based learning, and most schools have a teacher in their population who has participated in Open Minds.  So, is it time for us to change? – probably! 

We have had more schools apply with three or more classes all part of the same learning team – partly due to demographics, our city is growing,  and partly due to school organization.  I find working with a team of teachers fantastic!  It gives teachers with more experience with Open Minds the opportunity to mentor new teachers and entire grades in schools the opportunity to share their Museum experience.  More opportunities means more connections within their entire year. 

Our final three weeks were with three grade six classes.  The teachers planned their weeks together and shared their resources.  For us, it was eye opening to see three different approaches used within one framework.  Each week, even though the programs were identical, was completely unique but maintained a common thread to carry back to the school.  I think this approach, shared experiences molded to the individual student community and teaching style, worked brilliantly.

 The weeks all started with an object based looking activity that challenged the students to look deeply.  A “Welcome to Your Week” type of program!

The following day, building on looking deeply, the students participated in a writing workshop with writer and curator, Dennis Slater.  Now, they were asked to not only look deeply but to write a piece of fiction based on the object they chose.

 DSCF2537  DSCF2526

Building on this theme of story within object/art, the next day was an immersion into our gallery of arctic themed art to do some poetry writing and art making.

DSCF2474    DSCF2500

 A trip behind the scenes into our collections to look at and hear the stories of a few artifacts continues to reinforce the importance of object as story holder on the second to last day of the week.  Students worked individually in the afternoon, seeking out artifacts that interested them and finding their stories.

DSCF2564 DSCF2560 DSCF2536

The last day, using all of the skills from the week ahead, the students used clues from objects to create an imaginary culture and debate the impact to their culture when they are contacted by a different culture.  The conversation that this initiated was an excellent kicking off point for their year’s big Idea, “What makes a global citizen?”  I think the stories these students found in objects and the importance of preserving the artifacts will affect their view on global citizenship.  Cool weeks!

The final word goes to a grade six student,

“Museum school was awesome. We got to put on a Knight’s helmet and gauntlet. We got to spend a whole morning in the Warriors’ gallery, where we had to find any weapon in the gallery that wasn’t a fire-arm and write a story about it.  On Thursday, we went into storage, we had to take a special staff elevator up to the 7th floor. Once we got there, Marnie took our group to Patty the dog. Patty was a World War I dog who went with soldiers in Canada all the way to France and helped out the soldiers.  Patty was most likely killed by gases, was stuffed, and sent back to Canada where he wound up at the Glenbow.  Then we went to hold a one handed 30 pound cavalry mace. In the afternoon we went to Mavericks, where we had to write a story on one of the vehicles.  I chose the Curtiss Jenny 4 airplane and wrote an awesome story.  In museum school, I learned about Canada’s history, about the pioneers, about European history with weapons, ancient Japan’s history and the First Nations.  I learned all about the hardships of life in the olden days, and what it took to be a knight. I would go back because there’s so much stuff that I didn’t get a chance to see, and I want to see it all.” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Student journal - reflecting

Before, During and After Museum School

 At the end of October, CC/OM held a workshop for teachers that are visiting sites this year at Briar Hill School.  Mike West, who was at Museum School in September shared his process for skill building and creating a culture of learning within his class.  Two other teachers from Briar Hill were at Museum School as well, Celeste Ruff and Leslie LeVesconte.  This was a fantastic experience for us because we got to see the impact of the week at Glenbow on three classes. 

Pre-Work was a vital part of each class.  The learning and thinking was made visible up and down the halls and in the classrooms.  Click on the images to make them larger.Pre Work Pre Work What is a museum? Pre work Beginning to think about...

Skills were practiced.

Pre Work - looking at art

At the Museum, the learning was again made visible.  FullSizeRender Artifact whispers

To document their learning, students returned to their journals and drew from their experience to create multi-dimensional representations of their learning.  Expectations were clearly stated.

Rubric for Journal

 

Journal rubric

 The work that was, and still is, being produced clearly demonstrates student centered learning that shows they were engaged and challenged to think deeply.

Journal sample JOW poem1

Open Minds See, Think, Wonder - Go Deeper

Open Minds See, Think, Wonder – Go Deeper

Student journal - reflecting

 Thank you to Briar Hill grade 3/4′s for three fantastic weeks! 

 

Museum grandparent

If the Museum was my Grandparent…

When we meet with teachers long before they come to Museum School, we ask them to think of an underlying theme that will weave throughout their year and their week at Glenbow.  This week, something lovely is happening, one question is revisited each day to focus these grade 3 and 4 student’s learning, exploring and thinking.

“If the Museum was my grandparent, what would I like to inherit?”

Day 1

Oct. 6 Briar Hill

On the final day, the students thought of the word that described their inheritance and then the object or place in the museum that led them to their word.  This was truly a synthesis of what they had been doing all week.

Day 5

FullSizeRender

10471215_659584390776448_4613437530719761506_o

Connecting Collections: Integrating Modern and Contemporary Art into the Classroom

This summer Museum School headed to New York for some intensive learning.  We participated in the program,”Connecting Collections: Integrating Modern and Contemporary Art into the Classroom“.  It was organized by the education staffs of MoMA, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Before we left for New York, each participant was given two artworks to research.  This gave us the opportunity to explore the abundant online resources for teachers on each of the museum’s websites.  (MoMa, Guggenheim, Whitney, Met)  This is often an overlooked resource – art museums have a lot of art and content about art!  You will find artist and curator videos, art reproductions, lesson plans and much more.

When we arrived on our first morning, we broke into two groups looking for story connection and history/social study connections.  MoMA is a massive, crowded, overwhelming space filled with mind blowing art.  Somehow, our educators carved out space for us to work and discover how ‘theme’ can be developed and woven through carefully chosen works of art.

Picasso tableau

At the Whitney we were treated to a Jeff Koon retrospective and challenged with finding good questions to dig deep into the world of Koons!  How can you tell if you have created an open ended question?  It doesn’t have a correct answer. (That question, ironically, wasn’t open ended.)

Jeff Koons, "Play Doh"

At the Guggenheim we explored when, what and how much content do we give students when we teach.  This is the heart of inquiry based learning.  Without fail, the curiosity should come first.  We remember content when it was something we desire to know. 

10454084_659529920781895_8011016031439030104_o

10494312_659529930781894_6975039000178054125_o

We went rooftop at the Met. Definitely my favourite view of New York.  Spectacular.  Three different educators with three different approaches involved us in a multidimensional, sensory and argumentative look at modern art.  We used drawing, debating and our senses to experience art. Great day!

10546987_659530830781804_9185343724158663494_o

10498668_659530850781802_3826436456573040213_o

To wrap our week, author and educator, Laurel Schmidt, talked about learning, inquiry and the greatness that can be achieved in the classroom.  Inspiring stuff.  How do we learn? Novelty.  How do we make that learning indelible? In a number of ways:

10562904_10152597910968980_477547358_o

The week wrapped with a ‘Share Fair’.  Putting our learning into Practice.  It felt a bit like what I imagine speed dating would feel like except it had the energy of a bee hive.  Great ideas, great energy, great week.

10551593_660584254009795_2057964218137188703_o

(Photo credit to Connecting Collections Teacher Institute Facebook page – check it out!)

School Programs 2013-007656

Collaboration is key.

School Programs 2013-007656I have been doing a bit of reading about the interaction between classroom teachers and museum educators when designing school programs.  Turns out there isn’t any, or at least, there is very little.  So, what can be done?  To me, it seems like a no-brainer.  Ask the people who use the museum what they want from the museum.

The Noguchi Museum in New York has a really interesting take on this.  They formed a Think Tank made up of teachers and museum educators to explore the  the question, “What does success look like for a school tour at an art museum?”  The group met five times over the 2012/2013 school year and published their findings which were in the form of suggestions for those “booking, participating in, offering, and leading art museum tours for school groups.”(Noguchi Museum, 2012/13 Teacher Think Tank).

This is where it gets really interesting.  When I looked at the document and then looked at the way school programs are offered and presented in 2013/14  it turns out the museum acted on all of the suggestions.  They immediately changed old policy.  Cool.

What do you think?

 

IMG_2113

My Summer Holiday

IMG_2113I went to New York for the first time in my life this summer. It was everything I had imagined. Loud, exhilarating, overwhelming and wonderful! We at Museum School had the amazing good fortune of participating in the Lincoln Center Institute International Educator’s Workshop. This was an immersive week of arts education that challenged your thinking and opened your mind to new ways of engaging students with art through aesthetic education and imaginative learning. The framework that all of this connects to and jumps from are the Capacities for Imaginative Learning.

As the name suggests, the workshop took place at the Lincoln Center in the Julliard School. The Lincoln Center is comprised of three theatres, including the Metropolitan Opera, a museum and performing space, reflecting pool with a massive Henry Moore sculpture and the Julliard School. The workshop was facilitated by three Teaching Artists, an actor, a dancer and a visual artist. Fundamentally important to the Lincoln Center’s methodology is that students need to be involved with ‘live’ art – be that a performance or a visual piece. This is where our situation at Glenbow is ideal!

Embodying the Capacities

Henry Moore, Reclining Figure, 1965

Though the workshop is primarily aimed at classroom teachers and school administrators, the concept of using art for imaginative learning is also ideally suited to museum education.  The Lincoln Center’s philosopher in residence, Maxine Greene, sums it up with one of her many fantastic quotes, “Without imagination, you live in a small room with the windows closed. Imagination opens the windows and shows us landscapes, horizons that we would not otherwise perceive…I want education to empower people to see possibility.”

Dancers

IMG_2673

Art Museum Education

I took a workshop from Mike Murawski while at a Project Zero Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. It was focussed on multidisciplinary viewing of art – movement, sound, journaling, etc. We worked with a Jackson Pollock work for over an hour – and we could have doubled that! I think the blog that he moderates really addresses the style of learning we love – slow down, look deeply, form your own meaning. It is aimed at museum educators but really, we are all in the same boat.

IMG_2673
Art Museum Teaching
www.artmuseumteaching.com