An article in the NY Times tells of the reopening of the Yale University Art Gallery. The story focuses on the role of the academic museum as a teaching venue where “art appreciation meets education.” The gallery houses a variety of works from different periods and genres curated for the purpose of teaching. And its Levin Study Gallery invites professors from all academic departments to include pieces from the collection for their classes. This gallery is also open to the public.
Educators and curators at all art museums have been working hard to encourage the public into seeing their museums as a place for learning about a number of topics other than art. Art education department in museums work with curators to create programming that teaches museum patrons as well as school students. The Cincinnati Art Museum (not a university museum) also has a wonderful series for educators. This series instructs local school teachers on how to use the permanent collection and visiting exhibitions to enhance their curricula.
In the past ten years or unfortunately, the trend to promote art museums as places of entertainment has shrouded this educational role With this, too many art educators have had to include party coordinator as one of their skills.
It is wonderful to see this institution value their collection not only as a financial investment, but as an educational one. I do hope this is a sign or at the very least a cue for art museums to refocus their attentions to the curator and art educators as those important links to public education. And the first thing to teach is that the museum is more than just party centers.