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The other day Kathy (rosenfka.edu) made a related point: "My
basic idea is that it's a million times more effective for kids to be able to
stand in front of an original work of art... than to read a book or be
subjected to 'art in the dark.' I'm thinking about the potential of museum
education to turn out students who, as adults, will become informed and
educated museum-goers.... I'm interested in what a small city with a limited
collection of original or "important" works can do to design an experiential
art history curriculum that nonetheless imparts an understanding of the
'canon' and not just isolated works."
Here's how I've developed and used large collections of [95%] reproductions:
At each of two K6 schools I've used small rooms as galleries apart from the
art classrooms. I could annex these spaces only by making alliances with
music and literature people so we'd combine our efforts in putting together
exhibits in which ALL teachers could teach interdisciplinary lessons. So the
gallery is for studying visual art, listening to music, and reading and
writing too. We each saw that by combining our efforts we could do much more
than any of us could do alone. With the support of our principal, PTO, and
business partners, we completely transformed the interior of these rooms:
building in a bank of storage closets, resurfacing walls, adding carpeting and
At one of these schools we called our gallery "The Humanities Forum." In our
first exhibit we defined _humanities_ with a huge 50-ft timeline of the
history of art, music, literature and philosophy-- pre-history to the present.
I'd been culling and filing away these kinds of pictures from magazines
etcetera for years, and filled the walls with them. Some of the best images
contained elements of two or more of the disciplines we were pulling together,
like pages from illuminated manuscripts, and portraits of authors, musicians
and dancers. There were reproductions of fine art in many media, including
images of architecture, ceramics, stained glass, etc. We put carefully chosen
books upon the floor, in places along the timeline to represent the age of
their creation. Our music expert created a tape demonstrating the development
of music from primitive drums & Gregorian chants to Phillip Glass. A calendar
was posted upon which teachers could reserve times to bring in their students.
There have been 1-3 exhibits in these galleries each year ever since. The
themes of these exhibits have included student art, African, Japanese, ancient
Egyptian, Latin American, and Native American arts, flight, animated films,
oceans, 1492-1992, mathematics, and "reaching out to others." Each has
contained as many pieces of original work as I could beg, borrow, or create
myself; but most pieces were either reproductions or mass produced.
There are many sorts of lessons art teachers can present in such a gallery.
It's a great environment for the use of DBAE. And students love to play Mary
Erickson's "Token Response" in there, for instance. Beyond using this resource
with my own students, however, I take as a major goal preparing other teachers
to use it with their classes. Each of the gallery committee members shares his
expertise by writing and publishing lessons which classroom teachers can use
with their kids. We've recruited parents to act as docents for classes which
want to use them. We've established a lending program whereby other AZ schools
can borrow exhibits for $25 per month (just to cover replacing damaged
How to get the money to run such a program is a lengthier tale than I'll
tell here. But we got a lot from the typical fund-raisers, and a lot more from
Learning where to get good stuff is another challenge. Two mail-order
sources for sculpture reproductions: Alva Museum Reproductions Inc. ($400
min.), 185 Bethpage Sweet Hollow Road, Old Bethpage, NY 11804, 516-845-3838;
and Eleganza Ltd., Magnolia Village, 3217 West Smith Street, Seattle, WA
98199, 206-283-0609. Please share with me other good sources for 3D!
I'm also a big fan of using laser discs (and interactively with computer
hypercard programs), but that tale will have to come in another message.