Athens, Ga. – The Fifth-Grade Tours program at the University of Georgia’s Georgia Museum of Art is attracting national attention as an example of best practices in museums.
The Association of Art Museum Directors included the UGA program in its “Next Practices in Art Museum Education,” a publication that features 100 case studies of practices AAMD member museums have designed and implemented as innovative approaches to engaging the public with the arts through diverse learning opportunities. The report emphasizes the many forms art museum education can take and provides practical and inspiring ideas for future programming at institutions worldwide.
The museum’s Fifth-Grade Tours program, funded by a private donor, served as a model for the new Experience UGA program, which gives Clarke County School District students 13 separate opportunities to visit UGA’s campus by the time they graduate from high school. Without this program, which provides funds for substitute teachers and buses, the majority of students in the school district would likely not be able to visit the museum. It provides students with an engaging, educational and meaningful experience with works of art while helping them feel comfortable in and familiar with the museum.
The tours last approximately 2 hours and include a brief introduction to the museum, docent-led tours of the galleries (featuring selected works from the permanent collection and temporary exhibitions and using participatory strategies) and an art-making activity in the Michael and Mary Erlanger Studio Classroom. The museum’s education staff selects featured works of art based on the likelihood of students connecting with them as well as on the Fifth-grade classroom curriculum. Teachers may also make specific requests and view the teaching packet, which is distributed ahead of time and includes background information and suggested lesson plans.
“At their core, museums are educational institutions that play a unique role in complementing and extending their regions’ educational resources for children, students and adults,” said Chris Anagnos, executive director of AAMD. “With the publication of ‘Next Practices,’ AAMD presents case studies of innovative educational programs developed by our members as a resource for the field, educators, civic leaders and the public. Education is central to our field, and we are so pleased that the Georgia Museum of Art is committed to fostering innovative programming to engage and inspire the Athens community.”
AAMD represents 240 art museums across the U.S., Canada and Mexico-from regional museums to large museums in urban centers. A digital version of AAMD’s “Next Practices in Art Museum Education” is available online.
Partial support for the exhibitions and programs at the Georgia Museum of Art is provided by the W. Newton Morris Charitable Foundation and the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art. Individuals, foundations and corporations provide additional museum support through their gifts to the University of Georgia Foundation. The Georgia Museum of Art is located in the Performing and Visual Arts Complex on the East Campus of the University of Georgia. The address is 90 Carlton St., University of Georgia, Athens, Ga. 30602-6719. For more information, including hours, see http://georgiamuseum.org or call 706-542-4662.