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!

Mondays @ the Museum Behind-the-Scenes – Week 4: S.T.E.M. at the Museum!?

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 5, 2020

I have really been looking forward to this week! This topic often gets the most question marks from teachers to parents to colleagues to husbands. However, it may be the most obvious connection of all!

11 years ago, I was leading a weekly, all-day Saturday, teacher professional development course to Kindergarten through 12th grade teachers in Los Angeles, called “Teaching Our World Through the Arts” at the Skirball Cultural Center. One weekend in October, my father, a visual artist, was visiting from out of town and I invited him to present a session to the teachers on the Divine Ratio and Fibonacci sequence and how to teach math with art. We explored ratios and fractions rules of 3rds and patterns in nature. So much FUN!

It was one of the most raved about sessions, as it provided many of the teachers a new way to view mathematics and a new tool to teach it with: art!

As an Education Director at a Science Center, I work mostly on sharing STEM concepts to our community in an accessible and engaging way, so visitors to my museum can build their literacy in these areas and inspiration to learn more. Not everyone uses the same entry points into concepts and art is often an easier way to introduce the concept that math is mainly just a study of patterns. Because of this, I strongly believe in integrating the “A” for arts into the STEM acronym to create STEAM. As the students and I discovered today, Art and STEM go hand in hand making it silly, in my mind, to separate them.

Here’s a great video made by the Idaho STEM Action Center providing some great visual definitions of STEM!

In today’s session I presented simplified definitions of STEM in an attempt to take away the fog and mirrors that STEM concepts are complex or difficult to understand. We took these simple definitions and explored how Science Technology Engineering and Math are found at Museums and in the art. We explored the paintings to discuss whether or not the artists used the rule of thirds or other patterns to draw our eyes to a story and how the artists themselves integrated the scientific method with the artistic process, such as Claude Monet painting 250 paintings/experiments on water lilies to explore how to show the beauty of how light is represented and reflected off of the pond. With these new observation skills and STEM “lenses” to look through, students now have an engaging game they can play at the museum to see how artists use mathematical rules or break mathematical rules to help tell a story.

I will end this blog by sharing another blog written by my colleague, Haley Hill at the Discovery Center of Idaho exploring not only how math is found in art but in nature and all around us. Golden Spirals

Next week we look at Performing Arts in the museum!

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 3: Looking through a Social Studies lens

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: September 28, 2020

How the heck do museums know so much about the histories of cultures from so long ago? When we walk through galleries, looking at artifacts and ancient sculptures we see labels next to them that share an amazing amount of information, especially considering that we live now, and these were made way back then.

This is where Archaeologists are super handy, I mean essential. Recently, I put together a resource guide for educators to use to prepare students to visit the King Tut: Treasures from the Tomb exhibition on display at my day job, the Discovery Center of Idaho. Here’s a quick clip from the guide, defining Archaeology.

What is Archaeology?

ARCHAEOLOGY: the study of human history and prehistory through the excavation of sites and the analysis of artifacts and other physical remains

To learn from artifacts, archaeologists ask questions like:

My backyard archaeology dig-site for this summers’ Archaeology Adventure virtual camp at The Discovery Center of Idaho

Who were these people? When did they live? What were they and their families like? Where did they live, and in what kind of environment? What did they eat? What tools and equipment did they use? What contact did they have with other people? How did they organize themselves and their society? How did they organize themselves and their society? How did they organize themselves and their society? And perhaps most of all, what did they think and feel?

11 year old me at the British Museum “geeking out” next to the Rosetta Stone

We can ask questions like this too when we look at artifacts in museums. A favorite challenge of mine is to look closely and ask these questions of pieces on display and make my own hypothesis from close observation and applying my own prior knowledge before I check out the label. It’s exciting to see how close (or how far off) I can sometimes be!

In today’s class we also talked about how paintings can be another great way to learn about history. While most historic paintings aren’t considered to be definitive recreations of historic events, they are so important when learning about how we can paint new meaning into history with just a simple addition of a certain figure or symbol. Art is important in representing more than just the facts of the events, but also the ideologies, and perspectives of humans soon or long after the event took place. Children do this all the time. All those adorable crayon pictures of the world around them are tools for making sense of events and feelings. The better the craft or skill, the more accurate those representations of both the events and the feelings are shared. All the more reason to teach drawing!

Enjoy this VIDEO we watched and discussed this morning for more insight into how paintings tell stories.

Next week we’ll delve even further into the museum world when we take a closer look at STEM in the museum and art.

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 #archaeology #inquiry

Check out the website & purchase the course today!

Mondays @ the Museum Behind-the-Scenes – Week 2: Reading Art

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: September 21, 2020

Last week I made this comment: This course is different. It’s actually not only about the art. It’s about HOW you interact with the art, artifacts, space and content of whatever museum you visit be it in person or online. What connecting threads of interest can we follow through the museum?”

Well, this week was all about the art AND how we interact with that art!

What we got to do this Monday, was spend all of our time really focusing on the idea of what art is and all the different ways we can engage with it, online or in-person. We used two very different paintings, each exploring a theme around Autumn/Harvest. One was from the 16th Century and the other from the 20th.

“I liked the Pollack [Autumn Rhythm] the best because it made me feel lots of different emotions! The other one only let me feel one or two emotions. I like how excited I felt looking at it.”

4th grade Mondays @ the Museums Zoom class participant

When I go to museums, my first goal is to walk through and soak in the whole space. I skim the surface and get a big picture of what there is to explore. I then like to take a break or have a snack and then, it’s time for the real adventure. What, from my walk-through jumped out at me? What pieces stuck in my head through the break? Then I look at my map, find where that was and go back to take time, look closely, question and wonder. Providing the students with access to similar exploration skills and making them part of their museum-going habit, is essential. Life isn’t curated for us, but if we are able to step back and look at the big picture, it might be easier to take that first, next step.

As a museum educator, I love all the different ways in which my colleagues approach how to connect visitors with the art and artifacts they have on display. For many, the Visual Thinking Strategies approach fits best by providing three simple questions that can unpack art on a myriad of levels and open up amazing conversations that can bleed into the rest of the day or back into the classroom. HERE is a link to learn more about the VTS method and how it can impact classroom learning across subjects. I love their statement:

We believe thoughtfully facilitated discussions of art make education more engaging, inclusive, and equitable.

vtshome.org

I finish this post with a link to a video from the National Galleries Scotland that I find incredibly insightful and helpful when learning how to look at art. I love how these students are able to use those amazing speaking and listening skills to describe and express their observations:

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

Check out the website & purchase the course today!

Mondays @ the Museum Behind-the-Scenes – Week 1: Intro to the Museum

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: September 14, 2020

For most of us museums are for visiting on vacation. Taking a trip to the museum is what you do when your grandparents are in town, or when you take that big family trip to Europe. Maybe your idea of a museum has something to do with where Indiana Jones or Lara Croft drop off their priceless artifacts, or places where cat-burglars and high-stakes criminals fly down in their repelling gear to collect jewels for evil villains to use as decorations in their underground lairs! So, what are museums actually for?

To get all that museums have to offer, it’s important to understand where museums come from, why we historically have had them, how we can use them now, and what they can be in the future. As we determined in our class this week, Museums are spaces that tell stories of people, places and things using objects and images. Sometimes those stories are about the artists or the artifacts and sometimes the stories are about the visitors themselves.

As my 4th grade student shared this week with me, “I LOVE that the guy from the Greatest Showman, started his circus as a museum! And, I didn’t know that the first museum was made by a princess! That’s awesome!”

(HERE’s a link to the TedEd video we watched)

Why are we starting this program with the Metropolitan Museum of Art?

  • Because it’s the Met! duh! (Okay, I guess there are actually some good reasons):
    • The Metropolitan Museum has an incredible, masterfully built platform in it’s #metkids page that provides accessible entry points for children and families into their enormous, encyclopedic collection.
    • Exposure to museums like the Met build a greater appreciation for our local and regional museums. I know, it may seem the opposite, but that spark that starts with exposure is a reciprocal spirit that just keeps going. When you know how to dig deeply and appreciate the collections of great museums, you can dig deeper and better appreciate those collections nearer to you.

This crazy, Fall of 2020, we will be exploring a brave new world of museum education. Virtual everything can be overwhelming.

After a few days perusing through the internet, I learned that many virtual museum “tours” offered to teachers and educators focus on the traditional art-history entry points or just lists of links to online collection pages. This course is different. It’s actually not only about the art. It’s about HOW you interact with the art, artifacts, space and content of whatever museum you visit be it in person or online. What connecting threads of interest can we follow through the museum? Mondays @ the Museum’s goal is to build life long, transferable skills of close observation, critical thinking, insightful questioning, and just enough knowledge to make you always want to know more.

Thank you for taking this journey with me! I can’t wait to share what we learn in our next class.

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

Check out the website & purchase the course today!

%d bloggers like this: