Michener Museum hosts open house for educators
The James A. Michener Art Museum welcomed educators once again on Thursday, March 23, partnering with the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA), and the Council for the Advancement of Public Schools (CAPS).
The open house included public school teachers, administrators and school board members aspiring to enhance educational opportunities that will enable them to make curriculum connections with the museum’s permanent and special exhibitions including the current major show, “Charles Sheeler: Fashion, Photography and Structural Form.”
The event was designed to enhance education opportunities for students throughout Bucks and Montgomery counties. It included guided tours of the museum and opportunities to learn more about resources and programs for elementary, middle and high school teachers. A teachers’ workshop took place in the Sheeler exhibit.
Attendees were informed of the Michener’s onsite and offsite school programs and how it supports national, state and Common Core standards, along with Science, Technology, English, Art, Math (STEAM), in education. A special gallery talk by Kirsten M. Jensen, gerry and Marguerite Lenfest Chief Curator, on “Charles Sheeler: Fashion Photography and Structural Form,” and a Curriculum Connections workshop led by Devon Meves, Michener adjunct faculty, were provided.
Bill Senavaitis, treasurer, PSEA Mideastern Region, and an eighth-grade English teacher at Tohickon Middle School, kick-started the program along with Adrienne Neszmelyi-Romano, the Michener’s director of interpretation and innovation, and Melissa Sandquist, community programs and group visits manager at the Michener.
Neszmelyi-Romano gave an overview of the events of the open house followed by a brief explanation of the Google Art Project, an initiative through the Google Cultural Institute dedicated to creating technology that helps the cultural community bring art, archives, heritage sites and other material on line. To date, the Michener has 132 high-resolution art works on the platform.
Neszmelyi-Romano also apprised the audience of the Bucks County Artist database, which contains 1,865 pages of information and 1,529 images relating to 423 artists, past and present, from the rich artistic tradition of New Hope and Bucks County.
Next on the agenda was the education of students through the use of state-of-the-art curriculum resources, which use visuals for the classroom, such as teaching posters and a traveling trunk program.
“We offer teaching posters, outreach programs pre- and post-visit curriculums and a traveling trunk program which offers hands on artifacts available for rental,” said Neszmelyi-Romano. “Students will learn about different art movements, artists and styles while connecting to language arts, geography and social studies.”
Schools have been in the practice of collecting art for quite some time using artwork to decorate the school halls. The region has a long tradition of assembling collections of original works of art for display and educational use in public schools. School districts in Bucks, Montgomery, Berks, and Lehigh counties, as well as in Philadelphia, are such centers for this activity.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the Picture Study and Schoolroom Decoration movements prompted schools to collect works of art. In the mid-1930s, Superintendent Dr. Charles Boehm, well-known advocate of the arts, and Walter Baum, artist and passionate art educator, spearheaded the Bucks County Traveling Art Gallery to educate students about local artists. It is still alive today and continues to visit schools in an outreach program, Art on the Move, a collaborative program with the Bucks County Intermediate Unit #22, New Hope Solebury School, Philadelphia and the Quakertown and Souderton school districts.
The upcoming exhibition, “Dedicated, Displayed, Discovered: Celebrating the Region's School Art Collections,” co-curated by Neszmelyi-Romano and Louise Feder, assistant curator, is scheduled to open in July, the Michener’s director of interpretation and innovation said.
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