Behind the Scenes Education

Teens on Museums, Relevancy, and Community: Part 1

Learn more about the Satellite High School Program offered by the Museum in this four part series.

The Satellite High School Program interns, Fall 2014. Photo by Front Room Photography

It’s my pleasure to share the work of the teen interns in this semester’s Satellite High School Program. Fifteen students from all around Milwaukee spent a semester exploring and discussing art, touring elementary school students, going behind the scenes, speaking to staff, and learning about career skills. Then, the teens created final projects expressing how art can be made relevant to our lives today and how the Milwaukee Art Museum can be an icon for the city, inside and out. This post, part 1 of 4, showcases the work of these students in their own words.

The first group of students created final projects inspired by their interviews with Museum visitors.


“I love how everywhere you go in Milwaukee, the Museum is shown in some way. Overall in the Museum, I have always felt connected to the paintings by the way they make me feel. For my final project, I decided to go around interviewing people and asking them our Framing Questions: How can we make works of art and the museum relevant to our lives? What does it mean for the Museum to be an icon for the city—inside and out? I decided to make a Tumblr to post what the people I interviewed answered.”


“I asked our framing questions to several guests at the Museum and recorded their answers. Their answers had a lot of similarities, so I creatively put the more significant and most frequently used answers into a word cloud, and since I love fashion I placed it on a t-shirt. Not only did I answer the questions but I got to express myself by doing what I love to do in a fashionable way.”


Kayla shares her final project. Photo by Front Room Photography
Kayla shares her final project. Photo by Front Room Photography

“When I started this project, I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and try something new. Talking to people I don’t know is extremely hard for me. I wanted to get people involved and know what they had to say about the museum. I created a PowerPoint highlighting their responses. Some people had good things to say, some people don’t have anything to say, and some people say the smallest amount of things, and it creates a huge impact on what you’re doing. After I started I realized that if I had done anything else I wouldn’t have been as happy because I don’t think I could have answered the questions on my own. I took photos of people to show that everyone’s different and some people have interesting stories that you wouldn’t expect them to have. I asked them what the museum means to them because I want them to reflect on what it mean and if they went there as a child and helped them become more open. Most of the people I talked to said that the museum was the city icon, but I told them I wanted to know more personally about them and how it affect them. These people talked about how the museum was a way to help them be more artistic, more inspired, and a place for creative thoughts. When I think of this museum I’d have to agree: the museum is more than an icon. It helps people overcome things; the museum has personally helped me overcome being scared of opening up to talk to others.”


Nick shows his final project. Photo by Front Room Photography
Nick shows his final project. Photo by Front Room Photography

“For my piece, I made a text-image of the Milwaukee Art Museum’s silhouette. To begin with I interviewed citizens of Milwaukee about their impressions of the Milwaukee Art Museum, whether good or bad. After taking all of the interviews, I took key terms and phrases, and arranged them according to relevance inside of the silhouette, filling the entire image. After that I rendered the image using a word processing software (Tagxedo), giving the finished product. The result was the Milwaukee Art Museum made out of the impressions of Milwaukee’s citizens. I did this to show what it means to be an icon of the city. It means that whether good or bad, the Museum’s presence is made entirely by the people it represents.”

Stay tuned next week for the next installment of the teens’ projects!

Chelsea Emelie Kelly was the Museum’s Manager of Digital Learning. In addition to working on educational technology initiatives like the Kohl’s Art Generation Lab and this blog, she oversaw and taught teen programs.

2 replies on “Teens on Museums, Relevancy, and Community: Part 1”

Impressive work. I am thrilled to see the interaction and works created that demonstrate all the skills learned and developed by these young interns. Speaking to individuals about their experiences and working to further develop the museum and this program is a great way to help the youth better understand why people come to the museum, the importance MAM has to the community, as well as the importance the arts have. Kudos to all the young interns!

Leave a Reply