How to visit a Museum

I grew up with a visual artist and an amateur art historian. That meant that I was required to visit art galleries and museums in every town we visited and on every family vacation. While I appreciated most visits, I was also a normal child and teen and incredibly bored most of the time. Especially once I’d made my way through the space, and I was tired and hungry and there was nowhere to sit. My dad on the other hand, would spend hours moving close to each painting then stepping back and then moving in closer and tilting his head and then finally, moving on to the next one to repeat the same dance. I think most of us, when we visit museums of all kinds, fall into the category of appreciative, but easily bored once the charm wears off. In my case, I could always ask my dad what he was looking at and he was able to use his artistic vocabulary and experience to explain to me what was either interesting or not interesting or why he liked the painting or didn’t like the painting. I had a built-in docent, but rarely used him in that capacity, and more often than not, would pull on his arm to go. My mom was just as wary of leaving the galleries and would be my go-to for questions about the artist or the historic context that surrounded the painting to contrast my dad’s technical conversation.

This February, Mondays @ the Museum is excited to offer two free, live courses with Varsity Tutors, prepping students and parents to travel and explore in a world that we hope will begin to re-open soon!

Dates and times will be announced soon to add to your family time calendar!

Because of my upbringing, and interests, I also eventually built a great love of museums. My love and appreciation for museums grew even more once I started working in the museum field.

Just because I love museums and have worked in museums for years doesn’t mean I still don’t get mind-numbingly bored sometimes.

(I also studied and performed opera for years and can hardly bare to sit through a whole opera. I’m much more likely to leave at intermission, especially if the aria I was looking forward to hearing has already been sung, and listening to the rest at home. Lucia de Lammermoor might be one of the few I’ll sit through, because I have to make it to the end to experience the “Mad Scene” or maybe I’ll sit through Don Giovanni, to observe him being dragged into hell. )

I think I’m with many when I say, that along with my memories of how cool it was to see certain cool objects or paintings at a museum, I also carry with me memories of sore feet, a sore back, exhaustion, snappiness, hunger and overwhelming sensory overload.

So, how are we supposed to experience museums meaningfully?

When we’re on vacation, we often only have 3 days to collect our London experience, so we gorge on all the museums, theatre’s and cathedral’s that we can, to say we’ve done it. One more check off the bucket list! On to Paris, Rome and Budapest to cram in more “Instagrammable” experiences!

I think I can confidently say that all museum professionals would agree that what I described above is the absolute worst way to experience museums and cultural spaces. The anxious, sensory overload that comes with feeling that we need to stuff our brains with all a museum has to give, in a single visit is unmanageable and only leaves us with a bad aftertaste.

So, again, what will leave us with the warm-fuzzy feeling we all intend with each museum visit?

These are my 5 suggestions for how to visit a museum, given the amazing resources we now have at the tips of our fingers in the 21st Century.

  1. Be kind to yourself:
    • Start with food & make sure you’re hydrated
    • Visit the bathroom before you start your journey
    • If you can, check your purse, backpack or bag or wear something with pockets and leave any bags in the hotel room, in the car or at home.
    • Take a breath, and use the time at the museum to escape from your everyday cares
  2. Set realistic expectations:
    • Choose two or three things you really want to see and focus on seeing just those things first.
    • Take a break & go outside if you can & Give your brain a break to rest and process before coming back
  3. Take your time:
    • If you can come back another day, do it so that your brain can take a break
    • If you live nearby, become a member, and go as many times as you need throughout the year
  4. Utilize the resources that museum staff have created for you:
    • Virtual Collections:
      • Many museums, especially the big ones, have interactive and/or virtual collections online, including virtual gallery tours, that give you full access to their collections from home. These are amazing resources that can help you plot out your route before you get to the space OR parse out what you are actually interested in seeing.
      • These collections also often include videos, expert insight and way more access to information than you can get on a crowded day at the museum and can help make better sense of what you may have seen
      • (Use Mondays @ the Museum videos for tips on fun ways to interact with any virtual or in-person collection from ways to “read art” or find mathematical patterns in paintings or “Ask Questions like an Archaeologist” to learn about artifacts and more)
    • Website & online resources:
      • Even smaller museums have helpful resources like virtual maps, audio tours, and educational resource guides that will help you plan your visits. Make sure you go to a museum’s website before heading out to check on special events, unanticipated closures, fees, group discounts, guided tours, special requirements and more.
    • Gallery & Family guides
      • All museums have some sort of printed or virtual guide when you arrive, that provides a map and often a suggested route to take to see all the cool stuff. Many times museums will also have a guide made specifically for youth or families with children. These are fun for adults too and often include scavenger hunts, special activities and more!
  5. Take advantage of staff and docents!
    • Most museums either have volunteer or paid gallery educators, docents or tour guides available to help guide you through the space! These are amazing people who can both answer questions and spark your curiosity about the collections through their passion and knowledge. These people are ready and willing to help, (but also understand when a visit to the museum can sometimes be a quiet meditation time for many of us.)

In our February, Varsity Tutor classes we will be exploring where museums came from and why we have them, what kinds of museums there are along with fun tricks and tools to make both virtual and in-person museums visits engaging and educational for all ages.

These, of course, are my suggestions. (I don’t even follow them most of the time.) But always remember that museums have as many ways to enjoy as there are people to enjoy them. Just make sure to enter with a sense of curiosity and a willingness to go on a journey you may not have expected. Museums provide space to meditate, breathe, learn, observe, question and converse. Each visit will and should be different, but hopefully, with every visit we will learn a little more about ourselves and how we can make this world a better place through our expression of art, craft, science and more.

Since I first viewed it, I’ve really appreciated the advice in this video from by Museum Hack’s founder, Nick Gray. I leave you today with this fun link to amplify the topic of how to visit museums! Don’t forget to follow Mondays @ Museums on YouTube, Facebook, Linked-in, Instagram & follow this blog at our website: museum-mondays.com.

Looking back to look forward

In the next few months I’ll be expanding my content creation for Mondays @ the Museums to provide new live and recorded videos on a number of topics related to museums and the world of informal education. While putting together my budget projections for the upcoming calendar year, I had to ask myself “why” again. Why am I continuing on this path with my Mondays @ the Museum project? When the world goes back to a semblance of “normal” and we are able to travel and visit museums in person again, where will my business model fit in? Where does the long term sustainability come from? Eventually I will have to work on Mondays again for my full-time museum job and I won’t have the same time or income gap to fill as I did when this began. So, what is the spark that keeps this idea alive for me as we move towards the future? 

As I ponder these questions along with others, I remember that this project isn’t really new. This idea of providing access to practical and fun ways to make learning and especially learning at a museum engaging and long lasting is an old idea of mine and this isn’t the first time I’ve taken action on it. 

In 2006 I made the mistake of opening my mouth in a meeting and sharing an idea of creating a teacher professional development course at the museum I had just started working at. Instead of laughing it off, my supervisor took me seriously and gave me the green light to move forward with the idea. 5 years later and after multiple pilot versions and failed attempts,  I had developed a successful, multi-stranded, year long course for K-12 teachers that used our museum and it’s collection as an anchor-work for learning how to integrate music, theater, dance and visual arts into the public school classroom. Not only had the idea “grown legs” as my director once told me, it was garnering positive feedback from the teacher-students and our museum colleagues from other museums.

Tonight, before sitting down to consider what to write for this week’s blog, I felt compelled to read through the “Forward” that I included in my annual program report in 2010. I also read a wonderfully kind article that had been written reviewing the program and its conceptual and administrative development. Reading these documents reminded me that this isn’t my first rodeo. These projects take determination, time, risk, collaboration, tears, flexibility, adaptation, a clear vision and support along with so much more. 

As I look back to look forward, I start with the concluding sentence of an article written by my former MESC colleague, Cynthia Querio, for the California Association of Museums about my old program:

“‘Teaching Our World through the Arts’ proves that the successful contemporary teacher program seeks to go the distance, recognizing that the museum’s mission is met not only within its physical confines but in the classroom of every teacher who is exposed to the museum and who walks away with new methods to teach the arts.”

And I finish by sharing my words and vision from 10 years in the past. I don’t really see that this has changed. Mondays @ the Museum is for the teachers as much as it is for the students and visa versa. I’ve clearly found the niche I feel comfortable repeating.

2009-2010 Teaching Our World Through the Arts Final Report “Forward”:

I began development of Teaching Our World Through the Arts based on a personal dream to help general studies educators create an educational space that connects and intertwines all subjects, through the looking glass of the Arts. I hoped to open new paths for teachers to  instruct their students, using the arts as a lens, to learn on their own, to think for themselves, to find, to search, to question and to create an opinion in which they believe and can defend with confidence.

I approached Teaching Our World Through the Arts believing that Music is Science at work, Dance is Math in action, Theatre is History & Literature as expressed physically, Visual art is all subjects combined. Science is math and Visual Art and History; Math is Music and History. How can we separate what we experience as a whole in our lives every day? I hoped that I could begin to expand teachers’ perspectives so that we can have schools where a Science class consists of studying Physics through Dance, sound waves and quantum theories through Music and Scientific methodology through History and Math and Theatre and Visual Art. Each class the students attend is separate but part of the whole. The goal of education is not to graduate drones that have memorized facts and theories but to create humans who live and understand and experience and search and find and question to the fullest and still cannot tap the crust of our earth, its history, it’s environment and its many complexities.

I looked at integrated arts education as a chemistry problem. How do we combine the arts atom with the science atom so that it combines to create a “scieartence”? How do we combine the electrons and protons of the arts to the electrons and protons of math to create “math-art?”

In Teaching Our World Through the Arts we explored multiple paths into the world of arts integration using various pedagogical methods, theories and philosophies. Some of the methodologies that we presented were clearer than others and each teacher took away what connected with them personally. As in every learning process at no point in this course was a definite answer reached regarding the best practice of arts integration, however the emphasis lay in the exploration of multiple theories, inquiry and personal reflection. This course’s intention was not to create a philosophy on which arts education policy could be developed but to create a safe space for teachers to learn as students, to think for themselves, to find new ideas, to search where they hadn’t looked before, to question each other and to create a form of arts integration that worked for their classrooms, which they are passionate about, can defend and implement with confidence.

Reflecting towards the New Year: 2020 is almost over (Huzzah!)

Mondays @ the Museum has made it 5 months from inception and 4 months from incorporation!  When I first started Mondays @ the Museum, it was in response to a need for supplemental income and a realization that I had a unique (and possibly profitable)  skill set that others might actually benefit from. My skill set is unique in it’s type, not necessarily in it’s quality. There are thousands of Museum Educators out there that are much better educators than I am and have dedicated their lives to developing museum educational theory and practices that museums around the world have adopted to reach audiences far and wide. What is unique is the idea of Museum Education as an actual ‘skill’ or as a skill that can be produced and shared outside of a particular institution for the benefit of audiences far and wide. 

Join me and the Discovery Center of Idaho this Friday, December 18 for Uncovering King Tut: Busting Egyptian Myths

My theory of why this is true in my case, is that I have mentally equated my skill as a trained musician  to my skill as a trained museum educator. I have placed the act of education, particularly museum or informal education into the realm of performance or maybe more specifically, performance art; a realm that I am far more competent in than education in the realm of academia. What I came to realize is that this difference in my approach to museum education is unique amongst my colleagues. (Though I also know, for a fact, that I am very much NOT the only one) This uniqueness has more often than not, caused me feelings of inadequacy and a constant feeling of imposter syndrome, even as I continued to find myself in positions of leadership. I had to shift my perspective of my unique approach to the field, in which I have been working for so many years, to one of competence and inspiration towards growth and progress rather than cowering incompetence and motivation fueled by defensiveness and fear of being discovered a fraud. The balance is that I am fully aware and accepting of my lack of academic expertise in much of what  I teach and I have no problem reaching out, citing and celebrating those experts for their research and insight. In fact, I rely heavily on my relationships with these experts to maintain my own continuing education and share quality material to those I influence. 

With that initial understanding,  I produced my first sellable product, “Tour the Met” a 6-part exploration of the Metropolitan Museum’s, free #metkids site presented via interactive e-learning videos that utilize multiple entry points for learning, from Visual Art to STEM to Performing Arts to Social Studies. These classes were created mainly for homeschooling parents or classroom teachers to utilize as supplemental instruction, and for me to practice and experiment with my new idea and video editing skills. These are still available for purchase on my Teachers Pay Teachers website! Each sale from my store provides me with 80% revenue and 20% of each sale from my store goes back to Teachers Pay Teachers to continue providing millions of  Teachers nation-wide with access to affordable classroom instructional resources and additional sources of income.

Make sure to check out and subscribe to Mondays @ the Museum’s new You Tube channel! Video-only access is available by direct purchase HERE.

Having learned a lot in the last 5 months, and continued to be fueled by a mission to inspire a life-long love of learning of the human condition by utilizing  museums and similar informal-learning institutions as a tool for deeper understanding, I am embarking on a new series in 2021, “Traveling the world @ the museum” and presenting several free, live, large-format courses and multiple, for-purchase, intimate,  small-group, Mondays @ the Museum classes, in partnership with my new best friends at Varsity Tutors. (Keep your eyes open for more announcements and registration information in January, and clear your Mondays through May for learning.) 

Thank you to those who continue to follow me on my entrepreneurial journey! I value your support and appreciate that my ideas are finding a home with others. Please spread the word about Mondays @ the Museum and keep learning and growing!

What is Mondays @ the Museum “selling?”

Recently I was introduced to a marketing professional who specializes in developing LMS or Learning Management Systems. For those that are unfamiliar with the term (as I was),

“A learning management system is a software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting, automation and delivery of educational courses, training programs, or learning and development programs. The learning management system concept emerged directly from e-Learning.”

Wikipedia

We were discussing my program/product and after I expanded past my basic “elevator speech,” waxing poetic on my long term goals for Mondays @ the Museum, she summarized my product in a very different way than I had expected. “Oh, I see. You’re an interesting person and your selling a product that will help others be interesting too.” Well,…yes, I guess so. It’s not often I’m stumped in a conversation, and this was one of those rare moments. I had not thought of it that way at all.

While pondering her comment later, back in my home office, I was reminded of a video I used to use religiously with teenage students that I mentored as part of various arts or museum career development programs at my past institutions. It’s a presentation to teachers, given in 2008, on key 21st Century skills students need to develop, given by Randy Nelson, the former Dean of Pixar University. The presentation is titled, “Learning and Working in the Collaborative Age.” You can watch it HERE on Edutopia to get the full presentation. However, in light of this post, there is a particular part about becoming an “Interested” vs. “Interesting” person that always stuck out to me.

Although the LMS expert had referred to me as “Interesting,” I think she meant “Interested.” As Randy says in his presentation, “…interesting…[is]easy to get. Interested is tough. That’s a real skill…” Anyone can be interesting. I could be interesting with my fashion or my hair style or the way I speak or even my choice in tattoos or piercings. Interested means much more. I think she mean interested, because to enjoy learning, you must be interested. I am interested. I’m interested in finding out how people of all ages and backgrounds can also enjoy learning and find interest in all sorts of learning. I’m interested in Archaeology even though that’s not my specialty or even close to my field of expertise. I’m fascinated in how we know what we know about our human past. I’m interested in all different types of art museums because I’m interested in all the many ways humans communicate emotion and stories and experience through various forms of expression. I’m interested in all kinds of music and voices because I’m interested in why and how different voices and sound combinations sound the way they do and make me feel the way I do when I hear them. I’m interested in Science and Technology and Engineering and Math because I’m interested in how everything around me works.

And yes, I’m interested in sharing my interest and passion and hope that others will also become interested in expanding what they understand about the world. From my experience, museums are fantastic tools and resources for this type of activity.

I’m working on being more specific in my approach to the development of videos that will be most helpful to spark this life-long interest in all of us. Now that STEM @ the Museum is out, I most likely will be harnessing the original session 3, Through the Lens of History, and expanding on questioning skills around artifacts and history. Stay with me! More is coming! OH! And check out the You Tube video from last week’s presentation with Varsity Tutors: Questioning King Tut: Asking Questions Like and Archaeologist!

Questioning King Tut: Think Like an Archaeologist

I am NOT an Archaeologist. BUT, I have learned enough from their research and hard work to want to think (and especially ask questions like them)! Today, I’m taking a bit of a break from Mondays @ the Museum specific content to polish and rehearse for a “live” online tour of the Discovery Center of Idaho’s exhibition, King Tut: Treasures of the Tomb in partnership with Varsity Tutors, this Wednesday, November 18 at 5pm MST/ 7pmEST.

This week the state of Idaho stepped back into phase 2 of our re-opening plan in response to rising COVID-19 cases. As our museum has to cut back our in-person access to our exhibition, I am thrilled that we get to share our space virtually with a national audience!

As of this morning, over 5,000, nation-wide, have registered, and it’s growing! wow! No pressure!

Here’s a snippet from the Varsity Tutor class site for a little taste:

What can we learn about history by asking questions? Join the Discovery Center of Idaho on an expedition through time and their King Tut: Treasures of the Tomb exhibition. We’ll explore the stories we can uncover just by looking closely at and asking questions about the objects and materials left behind in King Tut’s tomb.

https://www.varsitytutors.com/courses/star-discovery-center/dp/dd67aace-3b80-4c0e-bde2-1deb40f1233d

(I guess, I’m not straying too far from the original Mondays@ the Museum course through the Met! Class 3, we explored the same topic. Funny enough, my daughter’s 3rd grade teacher is using the course with her class, and when I got home from rehearsal at the museum, my daughter greeted me with, “Mommy! You were my teacher again today! We learned about Archaeologists and a carving with a human face and wings.” Learn more HERE. )

Make sure to click HERE to register for Wednesday’s FREE Varsity Tutor Class and next week, I’ll get back to Mondays @ the Museum, but for now…I’ve got to rehearse!

STEM @ the Museum: Educational Video

It’s alive!!

“Viktor Nikolanstein & Alexgor (El jovencísimo Frankenstein)” by Jaime Nicolau is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

STEM @ the Museum is the next iteration of the Mondays @ the Museum product development experiment. Similar to Frankenstein’s monster, this video takes and modifies parts from Session 4 of the Tour the Met course: “STEM at the Museum.” Hopefully, different from that poor monster, these re-used clips and re-written script and class flow show a more refined approach to introducing children (and teachers) to an elegant intersection of the Arts and Sciences by way of the museum as a platform.

So as not to repeat the same blog that I wrote to explore the previous STEM at the Museum live class. I’ll try to keep this short and share in an entirely different direction.

3 Ways I’m like Dr. Frankenstein

  1. Dr. Frankenstein was driven to utilize his passion and talents to try and create life out of a sense of loss. I am driven too by a sense of loss, to a point. This project is a project of passion informed by my talents & experience, but only so much as I was forced to find a passion to fill a loss of income when I was in dire need of that income and focused on a talent and a certain set of experiences that seemed easier to pull from in my current setting and with the tools at hand.
  2. Dr. Frankenstein collected an assortment of random and untested tools to create a make-shift lab, in a secluded, damp workspace and machine with which to create his monster. I have also assembled quite an assortment of new tools with which to create my monster and continue to build my machine with tools such as: Elegant Teleprompter App, a bendy phone clip to attach the teleprompter to my computer, an assortment of (old fashioned, found in the basement) clip on lights to provide proper video lighting (and to hide the dark circles under my eyes), my live-class is recorded in my basement near a front loading washer that needs some mold -clean up, and I just downloaded a new video editing software to combine my different limb-like clips.
  3. Dr. Frankenstein was somewhat of an outlier amongst his fellow medical students. While I wouldn’t say I’m really an outlier, I AM the only one of my peers (save maybe one that I can think of) that has chosen to explore the monetization of museum education outside of the constraints of a particular museum or institution’s infrastructure.

3 Ways I’m not like Dr. Frankenstein

  1. I am not trying to create life, nor seeking to destroy that which I have created because I’ve made it with such abandon that I forgot it might need some good TLC to keep growing.
  2. I am not a Doctor of any kind
  3. I am not crazy…or am I? Mwah ha ha ha ha!

Rethinking the product, aka. Pivoting

Today I spent my time re-writing a single lesson. But it’s SO MUCH BETTER! The change was sparked by one phone call, or voicemail message. I had previously pitched my initial course product to my daughter’s 3rd grade online school teacher, to get her insight and to see if she might be interested in trying it out on her class. What I think my gut knew, but my laziness and eagerness to follow through on my initial intent didn’t want to acknowledge, is that teachers need very specific things. Not whole, 6-part video series at 30 minutes a pop. Even if they can modify and cut down the 6 part series, they don’t have the bandwidth to do that. You must give them EXACTLY what they need in an easy to implement package. She asked if I was interested in presenting my STEM session to her class. Yeah, totally! I kicked myself for missing the obvious, from years of working with teachers, for the wishful thinking of a quick buck. Ugh!

So, today, I modified my 4th session and completely re-thought my next steps in the development of my product. BE SPECIFIC. I have a 4th grader and a 3rd grader. So, essentially, this is my 3rd time through 3rd grade, (including my own experience). My product this year, will be geared towards 3rd grade. This also provides far more structure to work with, as I can be even more specific in my content standard connections. I love to think in the one-room-school house mindset, where all can learn from various entry points, but that, unfortunately in this setting, is not practical. The best part is, that being home with my 3rd grader as they make their way through their online curriculum, I’m able to glean what kind of content focus is actually happening and how it’s being disseminated to the students. I will also be offering each class in three ways, each at a different price point.

1. PowerPoint/Google Slides + script & quiz

2. Video + PowerPoint/Google Slides+ script & quiz and

3. Personal delivery (over zoom/google classroom) + Video + PowerPoint/Google Slides + script & quiz.

Having gone through the full 6 part series of the Met, I now have the foundational content that I can build upon for more bite-sized material that is easier to market and easier to consume. I still say, no harm in going big right out of the gate, but I’m starting to find my stride.

Be on the lookout for a new and improved: STEM @ the Museum class with 3rd grade specific learning goals following CCSS-Math, NGSS and National Arts Standards, expert-led explorations with fun-pattern finding exercises through the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s virtual #metkids platform and assessment tools (easy quiz) for classroom integration.

With a product to sell, I will begin to rev back up my marketing plan and keep this party going.

Mondays @ the Museum: The Experiment Continues

There’s a risk in putting yourself out there. Since August, when I first came up with this crazy idea, published this website, created the M@M Facebook page, Instagram account, Teachers pay Teachers marketplace, Linked-in & Pinterest accounts, I’ve felt somewhat naked. There’s a certain comfort in hiding behind a resume, or behind the reputation of the company you work for. Going out on your own, without the staff or access to resources provided by an institution and promoting your own, self-made product related to the very thing that your resume touts as your professional expertise can be not only daunting, but down-right terrifying. That terror doesn’t even compare to the financial needs that must be filled, a major influencer in starting this in the first place, and the fear of ending up even worse off financially than when you started.

And what about reputation?! OMG. The anxiety that keeps me up at night from imaginary responses of past colleagues and admired professional connections: “Poor Emily, she’s lost it,” or “Well, I guess she’s not as smart as we thought she was,” or “I regret supporting her in xyz…” or “She should know better” or “what is she thinking?!” When I look for market equivalents to my product, there are none. There are so far no for-profit online, museum education platforms (that I’ve found). I’m either a visionary or delusional. This extreme vulnerability, the unsettling ambiguity, the adrenaline rush that comes with this gamble is what so often drives (and often times sidelines) the entrepreneurial spirit. This is what I believe to be the spirit or necessary insanity that fuels the arts and sciences. Whether visionary or delusional, hopefully I can spark a new idea toward a new direction that ends up being beneficial to many.

Of course, it seems obvious to me. Singers teach voice lessons to make money. Pianists teach piano lessons to make money and so on. (I even took a course my senior year in college about how to start a voice studio and pay taxes because the university knew that we would need to make money.) Why shouldn’t there be museum lessons? With or without virtual access to collections, Museum Educators can teach the same observational and questioning skills, content and wonder away from the gallery, to enrich future gallery visits at ALL museums. I spent a good 10 years in my 20’s as a sole proprietor of a voice and piano studio that provided me my income, from which I paid taxes and was able to provide training in music to students, most of whom had little intention of becoming professionals. These music lessons didn’t lessen the work I did as a performing singer at the opera or little theater and it provided skills and exposure to a new generation of patrons for the arts. It also intensified my own skills in voice and piano as I was constantly learning from my students and having to stay in tip top shape as a musician. These music students with these skills helped to provide deeper appreciation for the mastery of the musicians on the stage. With this deeper appreciation, there is a greater value added to the experience which leads to the willingness to spend more for the ticket to see the performance. Orchestra members teaching music lessons on the side don’t hinder the orchestra’s ability to create revenue. Instead it creates an eco-system that sustains interest and buy-in to that industry. The two girls I reached over the last 6 weeks for sure, have a greater appreciation for museums and now new skills and tools to use in future visits. They will share that excitement with their parents and, voila! We build on to that eco-system for museums. Mondays @ the Museum hasn’t lessened my work at my institution, rather, it’s enriched it by providing me new skills that I can share with my institution as well as a reminder of the joy that gallery and museum education provides to me, which in the end will benefit the museum I work for(financially!) It’s a win win!

So what now? I’m approaching my 90 day review. How is Mondays @ the Museum doing? Is this viable? Where do we go from here? (plus a million other questions)

For the past 6 weeks I’ve had the intense pleasure of spending every Monday morning with the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s online collection with one 1st grader and one 4th grader. These two girls were excited and eager every Monday do learn something new. It was an amazing way to kick off every week and remind me of how much I love seeing the spark of learning in people’s eyes, even virtually and how much there is to learn from museums. I spent the past 6 weekends planning lessons, creating presentations, mapping my way through #metkids and learning how to produce online classes and making recordings. I explored all the major social media platform promotional opportunities and became versed in creating & writing marketing copy and graphics. I wrote 6 blogs, created a LLC, wrote multiple small business grants, reached thousands of viewers, even sold a course to someone in New Jersey and my business has brought in $235 total and spent over $1000. Net loss, (many) lessons learned.

I plan to spend the next 6 Mondays revising my product by amplifying the quality and content based on what I’ve learned. I plan to spend the next 6 Mondays continuing to share via this blog. I plan to spend the next 6 Mondays reaching out to new partnerships, new markets and possible profit-sharing platforms. I plan to spend the next 6 Mondays doing the same as the last. Learning and doing. (and hopefully making a little profit.)

I would love your help! If you are reading this and are interested in where this experiment is headed, I would very much appreciate your feedback and ideas!

“An entrepreneur tends to bite off a little more than he can chew hoping he’ll quickly learn how to chew it.”

Roy Ash

Mondays @ the Museum Behind-the-Scenes – Week 6: Review and Culmination

Week 1 Intro to the Museum 

Week 2 Gallery/Topic Exploration: Reading ART

Week 3 Gallery/ Topic Exploration: looking through a Social Studies lens 

Week 4 Gallery/ Topic Exploration: looking through a S.T.E.M. lens 

Week 5 Gallery/ Topic Exploration: Experiencing with Performing Arts 

Week 6 Review and culmination exercises

MONDAY: October 19, 2020

“Can we please meet again next week for another visit to the museum?!”

1st grade Mondays @ the Museum Live-Zoom class participant, at our “goodbye” time

Today was a bittersweet final live-zoom class for Mondays @ the Museum. While I am somewhat thrilled to have my Monday mornings back, I am truly going to miss these intelligent, eager learners that I’ve been blessed to have called my students for the past 6 weeks.

My intent with this course is first for the student: to provide useful skills that can be applied in any museum or learning space, whether in-person or virtual, to better appreciate and engage with a broad range of collections, using the Met as a jumping off point. My intention for the adults viewing or participating (or watching in the background) is also to provide skills for learning and observing and leading their child through intentional questioning in multiple situations. It is also to “unbox” the #metkids platform, (and eventually other museum collection virtual platforms). This intent is primarily so that the virtual collections that have taken years to develop and produce and share are used to their greatest impact! I love seeing lists of the “15 best virtual museum visits” for parents and teachers going around on Pinterest. But, I am concerned that just access isn’t enough. The guide can make all the difference and I LOVE being that guide!

Today the students guided me through the exploration. Now, armed with prior knowledge of museum, art& artifact terminology, the right questions for the right contexts and a general sense of ownership and solidity with the space and collection, the students took the wheel and we had a blast!

At one point the 1st grader pointed to an interactive part of the “Time Machine” tool that I hadn’t noticed before. We clicked and had a good laugh as the time machine “broke” with a theatrical crack and we were chided playfully by the site while being given a random art-work to explore together. Try it out for yourself HERE

Funny enough, both classes found their way to a Western Apache animal skin cloak, without any nudging from me, which we interacted with in completely different and fascinating ways!

For the next few Mondays, I will be taking the day off from zoom instruction, but will continue to write about and work to amplify the materials and content for Mondays @ the Museum and all of its future iterations with all the wonderful insights I’ve soaked up from my amazing students.

The arts, it has been said, cannot change the world, but they may change human beings who might change the world.

Maxine Green

#zerotohero #artseducation #museumeducation #museums #virtuallearning #mondaysatthemuseum #howtolookatart #fineart #stemeducation #steam #stemcareers #inquiry

Check out the website & purchase the course today!

Mondays @ the Museum Behind-the-Scenes – Week 5: Through the lens of Performing Arts

Week 1 Intro to the Museum 

Week 2 Gallery/Topic Exploration: Reading ART

Week 3 Gallery/ Topic Exploration: looking through a Social Studies lens 

Week 4 Gallery/ Topic Exploration: looking through a S.T.E.M. lens 

Week 5 Gallery/ Topic Exploration: Experiencing with Performing Arts 

Week 6 Review and culmination exercises

MONDAY: October 12, 2020

My previous museum positions had me working hand in hand with the performance arts in the development of onsite presentations to supplement and amplify the art and themes presented in our permanent and changing exhibitions. One year we partnered with the Thelonious Monk Institute to create original jazz works to complement photographs from tribal Africa, while another year we hired period musicians to re-create the sounds of medieval feasts with presentations of sword play and jousting. Art is only 2 (or 3) dimensional without the performing arts, and we all know life has far more dimensions!

Just like in visual art such as paintings and sculptures, the stories of our emotions are sometimes too difficult to communicate with words. So we use things like music or gestures or dance. Sculptures and paintings are still moments in time. Music and Dance and Theater place those moments in context and play with the before and after stories to make us ponder.

Throughout the past weeks of our course, my students and I have been exploring the stories found in museums and how to find them. We can find stories by reading the art, asking questions, or even allowing mathematical patterns to guide our eyes. This week we approached the space of the museum through different lenses. We imagined what a dancer might look for or see when they enter a space or what a musician might hear or notice when looking at a painting.

Today we listened to a dancer share his story of how the art at the Met inspires his ballet and then we used all of the observational skills we’ve been developing over the past few weeks to break apart the music we saw in Kandinsky’s lithographs. We also made our own Kandinsky & music inspired works of art. Of course, all of ours, including mine, looked a bit more scribbly than artistic, but all good art must start somewhere!

So often visitors and museum professionals get caught up in the academics, the provenance or the value of the art, that we lose sight of the human intent. Providing access to the performing arts in the galleries and in-museum theaters can help re-create that sense of inspiration and connect us to the art viscerally. This weekend I watched Jack White on SNL and was deeply reminded of the fully visceral and yet out of body visual that live channeling of the muses looks like. That performance could be considered a museum celebrating the muse of music.

I will end this blog by sharing a link to an amazing group of educators who are known for their incredible teaching artist training in the Los Angeles area. The dancing and performing duo (and my former neighbors) from BluePalm have tapped exactly what we touched on in today’s class artistic perception and how to teach and experience it.

The arts, it has been said, cannot change the world, but they may change human beings who might change the world.

Maxine Green

#zerotohero #artseducation #museumeducation #museums #virtuallearning #mondaysatthemuseum #howtolookatart #fineart #stemeducation #steam #stemcareers #inquiry

Check out the website & purchase the course today!

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