In part two of my three posts on this year’s Satellite teen program, I’m sharing the unexpected data that helped me see the bigger picture about my students’ ability to reflect thanks to being in the program.
There’s a reason why the summer teen program at the Milwaukee Art Museum is called ArtXpress. In less than a month, a group of sixteen high school students came together to absorb the current Kandinsky: A Retrospective exhibition, digest the meaning of abstraction, and collectively orchestrate their own Kandinsky-esque abstract mural to be blown up onto an Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) bus that will travel routes all over the city. In addition, the teens also mentored Milwaukee Public Schools elementary schoolers through the exhibition, challenging the teens to more deeply articulate the important aspects of Kandinsky’s pioneering work in abstract art.
Over the past four years, I have worked with hundreds of Milwaukee-area teens who love art, and who, over their time in teen programs at the Milwaukee Art Museum, grow to love museums as well.
I have always had a sense that my students grow over their time at the Museum. This year, though, to really study that growth, we designed our longstanding Satellite High School Program as a year-long experience to explore exactly how weekly sessions at an art museum might change the thinking of our teen participants. To that end, our program outcome for students was that they would show an increased ability to reflect upon their own experiences and performance.
For my internship with the Satellite High School program, Chelsea, my supervisor, let me organize the elementary school visits, where our teens taught much younger students about art in our collection. The teen interns work with students from Milwaukee Public Schools Community Learning Centers (CLCs) to introduce them to the Museum Collection and the feature exhibition. This was a challenging yet rewarding experience to manage!
As an upcoming art educator myself, I found I had to take into account different layers of teaching. I first only thought about the lesson I would teach to the teens–meaning I would show them what exactly we would be doing with the kids. But soon I realized the extra layer–that the teens would then be teaching the younger students. So essentially, I was teaching how to teach.
Teen programs provide a very different kind of opportunity for museums to experiment with interpretation. Because many teens participate in multiple programs for extended lengths of time, they become advocates and resources for our museums and collections. Here at the Milwaukee Art Museum, I’ve been experimenting with interpretation strategies that go deeper than one-day-only programs, providing not only learning experiences for students involved, but powerful tools and content for the Museum, too.
How do art museums engage teenagers? We offer a number of internships at the Milwaukee Art Museum for teens, but for most students, their first (and sometimes only) exposure to the Museum is through a school field trip. In collaboration with our docent corps, we asked the students themselves how to engage teenagers in the galleries.
How does one respond to a show like 30 Americans, which raises so many contemporary issues about identity, place and culture? How does this exhibition fit into a city that at first glance is all about motorcycles, baseball, and beer? Teens in the Milwaukee Art Museum’s ArtXpress program tackled these questions this summer.
I had the pleasure of being the Media Intern for the 4-week-long High School Internship Program at the Milwaukee Art Museum. As an Interactive Media Design and History major at Alverno College, being chosen to intern at such a beautiful place full of creativity, history, and passionate people was not only a great learning experience, but also a real treat for me.
This summer’s High School Internship Program was slightly different than how it had been in the past—it was part of the TED-Ed Clubs pilot program (TED-Ed is the educational side channel of TED Talks). As the Media Intern, it was my mission to film and edit a video directed by the 16 teens, which answered the question: “What are museums for?”
While other teenagers spent their summer sleeping in, playing video games, and eating junk food, I was given the wonderful opportunity to work behind-the-scenes at the Milwaukee Art Museum along with fifteen other high schoolers.
During our internship, we learned in depth about the hard work and dedication that goes into running a museum. The internship was also part of the TED-Ed Clubs pilot program, and we were tasked as a group to create a video about our essential question: “What are museums for?”
In late March, this semester’s group of Satellite teens took a field trip to the Chipstone Foundation in Fox Point, WI. You probably knew that Chipstone has a great decorative arts collection and produces progressive exhibitions in the Lower Level of the Milwaukee Art Museum. What you might not know is that they also have a site in Fox Point, where they host college-level age groups.