Center for Creative Energy

Museums of Tomorrow

Lillian and I (Meg)  just returned from the American Association of Museums Annual Meeting in Houston, Texas. Amid the heat and humidity, there were some amazing ideas and creative brainstorming about how museums might serve society in the future. The theme this year was “The Museum of Tomorrow”. Below are some big questions to answer as 21st century progresses.

students practicing Tai Chi during the Art of Nature program last year

What can happen at a museum?

Well, here at SAMFA we canoe, practice Tai Chi, partner for river clean ups, and host egg parachuting competitions in addition to talking about and making artworks. Our willingness to imagine our institution as a physically and mentally active place  is part of a larger trend among museums defining new ways to engage with and promote a healthy and happy community. The following link shows some interesting examples of creative things museums are doing with outdoor, physical community engagement:

Let’s Move! Museums and Gardens

Do museums improve society?

Most people would probably answer yes to this question. But the nature of that role is evolving to include more than just the preservation and interpretation of our cultural heritage. In fact, I would like to change that question to read: How do museums serve the community? Museums still love and care deeply for their objects, but currently more and more museums are beginning to use this caring nature to serve both local and global communities in ways that change lives. The Let’s Move! Museums and Gardens initiative is one example of this because it focuses on helping children and families lead active and healthy lifestyles.

Our partnership with the San Angelo Independent School District and the Upper Colorado River Authority, called the Center for Creative Energy, takes this role seriously. The quality of life for those living in the Concho Valley is at the heart of our mission. The programs we develop aren’t just about exposing kids to art and injecting science content into a museum visit. Instead, it’s about inspiring our youth to consider pressing environmental issues facing our river and community, and then preparing them to solve those problems in the future.

a student showing off his prototype for a highway cleanup solution during Art/Science Fusion

How will Museums and Schools work together in order to serve learners?

Looking at art in a museum is such an ingrained given. That will always be an important part of what we do, but how can we take looking and talking about art to and make it part of a good life? How can we take what an education does for a child to a level where we don’t just teach content, but also a way of living? How can museums and schools foster student curiosity, inspire a love for discovery, and instill a sense of responsibility and caring for themselves and their community? Museums and schools share the same communities, so partnerships to develop socially engaged programming seems natural.

I talk about this subject all the time, I know. But I truly believe that one of the greatest challenges education faces over the next twenty years isn’t  content mastery or low test scores. Instead the challenge is about shaping people’s lives. If someone loves to learn, if they are truly inspired by discovery and feel a deep sense of community engagement, would scoring well on a test be as difficult?  What if our goal wasn’t to teach students to learn, but to live?

Summer is here, and many of you are probably thinking about vacation. So, I’ll step down from my soapbox and just leave you with this:

Did you inspire someone to live this year? Will you do so next year? How?

Talking about Art

Hi Everyone!
Here’s a nice little entry I found about talking with kids about art. Hint: It could work for adults, too! You can always try it in our galleries here at SAMFA over the summer!


Learning with Leonardo

Summer is almost here, and as I found myself researching for our upcoming Summer for Kids curriculum, I stumbled upon this archived article about an elementary school in the D.C. area: Leonardo’s Curriculum

It was published in the late nineties, but I really liked the idea at the heart of this article(and really at the heart of Leonardo’s life) which is living to learn. Discovery, imagination, science, art and many other disciplines connect in ways that not only make for a dynamic learning experience, but also a more meaningful life.

Does anyone have any other examples of quality interdisciplinary curriculum like this one they could share? If you’re an educator, how do you connect themes, topics, and different disciplines in your own curriculum design?

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