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?


Lessons About Water

San Angelo had a crazy snow/ice storm last week, so Art/Science Fusion readjusted scheduling to make sure that SAISD 2nd graders still get the most from the program. Christy and I (Meg) shared a couple of sessions, and it got me thinking about how important water is to this program.

One of our major themes and goals for the Center of Creative Energy is to connect the curriculum to water. For the All About Texas Art/Science Fusion curriculum we use water in a couple of ways:

Laying down washes of color.

1. We’re using watercolor. Okay, a bit literal, I know…BUT Walt Davis, who is featured in the All About Texas exhibition at SAMFA, created beautiful watercolor paintings to document the journey he and his wife took around the edges of Texas. Our 2nd graders are learning some basic techniques like masking, washing, and dry brushing to create watercolor postcards of the Texas landscape. At the end of the program, the kids will exchange their postcards along with a letter sharing their thoughts about their time at the Museum and Water Education Center.

Christy and students organizing Texas wildlife according to region.

2. We’re focusing on how water (in the form of rivers and an ocean basin) helps create the shape of Texas. This naturally leads to a great discussion about how ecologically diverse Texas is. Texas has 7 ecologically unique regions featuring deserts, swamps, canyons, prairies, and beaches.

Why does Texas have such an awesome terrain? Because different amounts and kinds of water (salt vs. fresh) can create different ecosystems and landforms. Of course, Texas being really, really big helps a lot!

As we continue to teach this program, we hope that students are starting to think about the important role both water and art play in their lives.

If you have a moment with your students, ask them why water is important. Then, feel free to share those responses in the comment section below.

Thanks, everyone!


First Week Highlights

Well, the first week of Art/Science Fusion has come to an end,  and the All About Texas Road Trip Tour was lots of fun.  Below is a PDF of the tour outline, a PowerPoint presentation of the featured artworks, and some photos of our “trip” so you can get a feel for the week.

We would love for educators to use this tour in their own classrooms, especially if your students are learning about Texas, different art mediums, or plant life and animal habitats.

Also, it’s a great exhibition, so if you can’t make it out to San Angelo to see it, you can save some gas and view it in the download (although art in real life is ALWAYS better…)

All_About_Texas_Road Trip Tour Guide

All About Texas Tour Ppt.

If you do use these resources, we would love to hear your feedback and any creative uses or new ideas you may have added.  Feel free to post below, or email me at

chatting about Mary Baxter's work

sketching a view of the Concho River

Art/Science Fusion Kick-Off

The first group of Art/Science second graders just got on the bus to return to Santa Rita Elementary School. I expected to feel exhausted, but I actually feel energized! Who knew that 3,000 + mile trip around Texas with 20 second graders could be so awesome?

We took a “road trip” tour across the state of Texas in the All About Texas exhibition (don’t worry, we wore seat belts). To keep ourselves occupied on journey, we chatted about artist materials, scale, and what the weather might feel like if we able to step into one of Mary Baxter‘s beautiful oil paintings, or perhaps join Josephine Oliver on one of her fantastic summer art making trips.

At the end of the tour, we did a little sketching of our own. Below are some wonderful drawings the students created. Later this month they will be adding color and detail using watercolor.

view of the pedestrian bridge across the Concho River to downtown San Angelo

In the top image, you can see SAMFA's director, Howard Taylor, showing some fellow museum folks around the grounds.


view of the Cactus Hotel and the Oakes St. Bridge from the Museum balcony

Stay tuned for updates about on student progress. Next week the students will visit Ms. Christy at the Water Education Center to learn about the science that makes the Texas landscape unique!

Where Art and Science Connect

Welcome to the Center for Creative Energy! We are stationed in San Angelo, Texas on the banks of the Concho River prepared and excited to kick off a great year of Art and Science programming for San Angelo students.

Monday is the first session of our Art/Science Fusion program.  Santa Rita will tour the new All About Texas exhibition and experiment with some basic sketching techniques.

Our staff will be updating this site as the 2011 Center for Creative Energy programs get underway. You can learn more about what the Center for Creative Energy offers in the About Us section.

Be sure to visit later this week to see photos and updates about the tour! We’ll also be posting lesson plans, art/science musings, and entries from guest contributors as the year progresses.

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