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Museum Tours with Transport

Boise Art Museum

We could not have predicted the devastating impact the pandemic would have on Idaho’s school systems and BAM’s Free School Tour Program. We reached out to teachers, and based on the new needs they communicated to us while they were teaching from a distance, we used our current technology resources and adapted our program by creating digital BAM at Home curriculum packets with units of lessons that teachers easily could share with students. The packets were designed to relate to artwork in our current exhibitions and Permanent Collection, and included conversation guides, digital images, at-home activities, and art-making projects. A link to the free materials was sent to teachers. They could provide the lessons together or one-at-a-time, either through the paper-copy-pick-up methods schools developed, or through digital means. These materials were a resource for teachers who were creating educational activities for their students who were learning from home.

The Essential Question that guided our projects’ focus was:

How do people contribute to awareness and understanding of their lives and their communities through art-making?

Through interactions with and analysis of art through guided activities and discussion, students developed ideas and understandings of society, culture, and history. Students were encouraged to compare uses of art in a variety of societal, cultural, and historical contexts and make connections to uses of art in contemporary and local contexts.

Each lesson included instructions for hands-on art making, to reinforce the discussion and observations from the lesson, encouraging students to make meaning by investigating and developing awareness of their perceptions, knowledge, and experiences. Lessons included inquiry methods of observation, research, and encouraged experimentation to explore unfamiliar subjects through art-making.

At the conclusion of the project, students responded to questions related to the identified Standards:

Students will compare uses of art in a variety of societal, cultural, and historical contexts and make connections to uses of art in contemporary and local contexts (VA:Cn11.1.IIa).

A local teacher gave us comments and feedback from a student evaluation for our 3-D Sculpture lesson, which was based on objects in BAM’s Permanent Collection. For example, one student stated, “I think our opinions [about the art] were similar is some ways, but still quite different. I think our opinions actually kind of reflected ourselves. I interpreted an art piece and realized that my interpretation related to me, and how I saw the art. A different student interpreted the same art piece in a different way that could relate to his experience and life.”

Students will utilize inquiry methods of observation, research, and experimentation to explore unfamiliar subjects through art-making (VA:Cn10.1.IIa).

Responses also demonstrated that the art-making component of the lesson helped them to connect their knowledge with the process of making their own art. A student shared, “I created a 3D scene of a giant wave, a small boat, and a person, standing on the boat, fearless, standing against the wave. This is sometimes what I feel like, facing the world.”

Impact

During this shift in our focus of providing visual art resources to teachers and students learning remotely, we discussed the future of our school programs, and ways to lay the groundwork to expand to reach students and teachers all across Idaho. To deliver an education program that is relevant to the realities of our current times, we recognized the need to adapt our delivery methods and explore new technology to stay on the cutting edge of the educational needs of our community. BAM worked to identify a museum technology company that could help us re-imagine our program as a remote learning program. We found an experienced, award-winning company with a knowledgeable design team to begin this important work. Our early conversations and brainstorming sessions with them have been incredibly fruitful, and we have developed a plan to expand our program. An online platform will allow us to scale up our valued program, so that we can reach beyond the schools that can visit in person, breaking down current barriers to participation and creating equitable access to all. We are excited to create and share this new, free resource that will serve teachers and students throughout the state, as a permanent feature of our programs for schools.

Reflection

One of the teachers who taught the 3D sculpture lesson in her classroom sent us a short video showing her students completely engaged with the hands-on art project. This video brought tears of joy to our staff who have missed being able to welcome groups of students to the Museum. Seeing the students engaged and hearing them cheer, “Thank you BAM! You guys are the best!” made us realize that, by taking the program in a new direction to adapt to remote learning, we can still reach our goal of making a difference with art education, even from a distance. BAM is now working toward a brand new approach to our programs for schools that will enable us to reach students across Idaho, whether in person or remotely.

Support from the Idaho Commission on the Arts during this incredibly difficult year has enabled BAM to continue to meet the educational needs of our community, keep students and teachers engaged with educational resources during unprecedented challenges, and to imagine and create an actionable plan for the future of our school programs. Thank you.

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