The most exciting and challenging part of my job this semester is teaching the Satellite Program, a 30-year-old program meant to introduce high school students to Western art history. Not only do I have big shoes to fill (Chief Educator Barbara Brown Lee passed the Satellite torch to me this year), but I also have a couple of big questions to consider: How do I teach a solid, but fun, overview of art history using the Museum’s collection as our textbook? How can I incorporate new technology into the class to enhance our looking experience, and not distract from the artwork?
This month’s book salon found me revisiting a book I first read in college: How to Make an American Quilt by Whitney Otto. Well, we all know that just as we can never step into the same river, we can never read the same book. Happily, it did read like a new book–partly because I didn’t have to write a paper about it afterwards– but mostly because I read it surrounded by 40 handmade quilts on display in the American Quilts exhibition.
Last week, the Schroeder (west) Galleria of the Museum was filled with the sounds of clacking keyboards and clicking computer mice, with the blinking LED lights of personal Wifi devices, a live Twitter feed projected on the wall, and groups of excited, collaborating teachers talking at fullspeed. What brought these 128 educators from all over Wisconsin to the Museum for four packed days at the end of July? The Milwaukee Digital Media Conference.
From Museum docent Carl Becker: On a recent “Weather and Seasons” tour with fourth graders, we stopped in front of The Two Majesties to discuss the painting and the North African desert location. I asked the children how they would feel in the environment depicted in the painting.
Some people come to a museum feeling completely at home. But what about those who are a little intimidated, feeling as if they need to have a background in art history to have a great experience? After experiencing a new way of looking at art with one of my colleagues, my head has been swirling with this question.