Categotry Archives: manifesto

Teen Twitter Takeover with @KidsinMuseums and @HornimanMuseum

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Last August over 50 cultural and heritage organisations across the UK handed their twitter feeds over to teenagers. Teen Twitter Takeover happened in museums, archives, galleries, castle, historic homes and more. All of these venues offered young people a chance to be Social Media Managers – a role that is usually reserved for adults.

Here’s how one teenager from The Horniman Museum as Gardens approached it with emojis.

Last year, the youth panel had the chance to be involved with Teen Twitter Takeover, and our immediate thought was to try and come up with an idea for the day which was really accessible, fun for everyone involved and appealed to other young people – which lead us to dedicate the entire day to one thing: emojis. People would tweet emojis at us, then we would run around the museum and gardens trying to track down and photograph the real life equivalent. It was an exhausting day (especially when someone tweeted a rabbit found in the garden one minute, and a fish from the aquarium the next!) but our idea got a great response on Twitter and we all had a lot of fun doing it. Continue reading →

Part #4 Reflective Essay: Teen Ambassador @nmafateens

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Continuation of Teen Ambassadors Program at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art Guest Post

Amyra Demonstrating Project Math FestNote: This post was written by Amyra Hasan, a student in the Teen Ambassadors Program, to fulfill the requirements of her capstone project for the “International Studies and Law” academy that she is enrolled in. It is a reflective essay about her experiences during the training portion of the Teen Ambassadors Program.

For most people, Africa began when the Europeans decided that the continent was merely a meal they could slice and take for themselves with no regard to the millions of rich and proud people living there. They devoured Africa, ravaged it, and had the audacity to blame its poor condition on the people themselves. For a lot of people now, Africa and black America is still perceived that way. I, as an Asian, have virtually no ties to this continent. I, as an American, could have easily swallowed this imperialist narrative, the product of a Eurocentric education system, without thinking critically about it and moved on with my life. The problem is that I choked on it.

I could not accept this so passively. Africa is the cradle of humanity; surely it couldn’t be as simple as this right? I kept this idea tucked away in the back of my mind as I refocused on getting through the end of junior year. Afterwards, it came up again as I was considering my career path and my future college plans. I had my heart set out to be a humanitarian working to improve the lives of people in less developed countries like Indonesia, my own country. So far, I joined an International Studies and Law program, but I needed something more concrete. I needed something that would give me firsthand experience with different cultures other than my own, something that would simultaneously aid in developing practical skills and broaden my worldview.

Working as a teen ambassador for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art not only fit all of these requirements exactly, but it also answered these burning questions I had about Africa. I gained confidence when I gained friends in such a short span of time. I developed my social skills as I slowly got to work more and more with the public. I came home with newfound passion that I realized I hadn’t felt in years: talking excitedly about everything that happened that day, feeling satisfied and productive as I watched those previously empty weekend hours fill up quickly with schedules.

Even though the artistic aspect of the program was not initially my main interest, I realized art is much more valuable than what most people, including me, give it credit for. Art can be a conversation starter into deeper issues about society, which is precisely what I plan to do as a humanitarian and advocate. I may not work specifically with African countries in the future, but it was especially during this experience I vowed to do my best to bring awareness to the hundreds of diverse societies living inside it. I want to show people that Africa is not one monolithic culture ravaged by disease and poverty, but it is just as capable as anyone else of producing unique and beautiful art. On a general level, I want to show people that all art is equally beautiful and equally valuable, just as all people are.

This is really what extracurricular opportunities, such as the Teen Ambassadors Program, strive to achieve. As Americans, we don’t realize the enormous amount of privilege we have. Our public education system teaches to standardized test after standardized test, leaving no room to learn to appreciate the world for how it is and to learn how to make it a better place. By experiencing Teen Ambassadors as an extracurricular program, I learned that practical experience is just as crucial to being a well-rounded person as a classroom education. I refuse to be passive about the ideas I consume. Like getting nervous before a tour, I must learn to hold it down and speak with conviction, to take an active role in my life so I can help other people do the same in theirs.

 

Part #3: More Lessons Learned and Big Questions from Case Study @nmafateens

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We’ve been quiet on the Teens in Museum blog about the Teen Ambassadors Program at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, but that doesn’t mean that we haven’t been busy. Quite the contrary! It’s been a busy few weeks for our Teen Ambassadors, as we launched into the nitty-gritty of training: learning the building blocks for a tour. In the meantime, we’ve also had the opportunity to provide our students with special opportunities, such as the chance to attend the press preview and opening for the Divine Comedy exhibition, and a chance to sit down with our head of Public Affairs and chief librarian to discuss a range of careers available in museums.

Over the past few weeks, our Teen Ambassadors were ask to select two artworks in our Conversations exhibit that they loved, and then respond to these pieces. They then researched these artworks and pieces, and then gave a five-minute talk in the public galleries on their findings. After we gave the students feedback, each student chose a partner whose selected artworks corresponded with his or her pieces. The students then worked on discussing comparisons between the pieces and elarning their partner’s works. These pieces will be the building blocks of their tours. Our work with the students over the last few weeks has provided us with several “lessons learned” and reflective opportunities.

Lesson #1: Get all relevant medical information from your program participants.
One of our participants has a reoccurring medical condition that occurred while at our program. Although it was not serious, we had no prior knowledge on this condition, or on any other medical conditions or allergies that the students have. From this incident, we learned that we have to collect documentation on any medical conditions or special needs that might affect our programming. For future teen programs, we plan on beginning with a parent meeting, where we will provide confidential worksheets for parents to fill out regarding medical conditions and other information. It seems obvious in hindsight, but in our rush of planning curriculums and envisioning a program, we overlooked this basic step, and we definitely learned a lesson we won’t for’et.

Lesson #2: Provide specific guidelines about what we want from the teens.
When we assigned the students “Interpretive Challenge” research assignments on two artworks that they selected from the Conversations exhibit, they were the five-minute gallery presentation we wanted them to develop. While the student presentations on a whole were really good, the students’ research was not as rigorous as we’d have liked to have seen. Our “Interpretive Challenge” activity was modified from an exercise completed by our adult docents. Many of our adult docents have advanced degrees and intensive experience in the art world, so when we tell them to “research a piece of art”, they more or less know to draw a broad context around the piece. When we asked kids to do this, they provided really rich interpretations based on their observations and own worldviews, but some of their readings lacked in artist biographies, theme of the exhibitions, and art historical context. While we did some research on our own to add some facts to these pieces, we’d like the kids to do this research in the future. To do this, we realize we need to ask our kids to answer very specific questions in their research (such as “give three facts about the artist”). For our first round of Teen Ambassadors, we helped write up some additional research and interpretation for them, but this led us to grapple with our educational philosophy and led to our first big question, which we think might be shared by anyone doing a basic program.

Big Question: How much of the tour should be generated by us, and how much should be generated by the kids?
We have a great group of kids; they make great observations when given the chance to closely look at art and objects, they are wonderful storytellers, and they aren’t afraid to let their personalities shine through when talking about art. It was a highlight of our program to give them a chance to research and study pieces and take some ownership over their pieces, and then have a chance to teach their peers about these pieces. However, there are certain basics that we believe that every gallery experience facilitated at NMAfA should include, and certain contexts that we as interpreters should pass on to audiences who are familiar with art but may be new to non-Western art. At the same time, we don’t want our students to be reading off a script. So how to balance? We’ve been experimenting with scripting certain elements of the student’s tours—introductions and conclusions, for example, which we’ve noticed that any new docent or educator may struggle with—and we’ve given them additional facts to sprinkle through the gallery. It’s still a give-and-take process as we experiment with what works and what doesn’t, so we look forward to thinking more on that in the next few weeks.

Lesson #3: Spend as much time as possible in the galleries.
Many of our early sessions were held in our executive conference room, but I realized when the students were giving their gallery presentations that they seemed much more relaxed in the conference rooms than they did in the galleries. As it’s Cherry Blossom season in DC, the past few weeks have been really crowded with tourists. Couple that with some really sensitive alarms in the gallery, it’s no wonder that the galleries are unfamiliar and a bit scary to the kids (honestly, during the Cherry Blossom Festival, the galleries are a bit scary to me!) Our last session was spent almost entirely in the galleries however, and I realized the need of being in the galleries as much as possible in the future. I like to think of learning as one of the more elevated blocks on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. In order for learning to happen, the more basic needs—comfort, security, etc—need to be met. By providing kids the opportunity just to hang out and be themselves in the gallery, we are building their comfort levels so they can properly study and learn the artworks. They’ll then be able to convey that to the audiences that they’ll start working with in the next month.

Speaking of the future, we’re onto recruiting for a summer class of Teen Ambassadors! Reflecting as part of the Teens in Museums blog has been very beneficial for my own program planning, and I look forward to having the chance to implement my own lessons learned.

Photos:Teens at Press Preview

We’ve been trying to expand the range of opportunities available to our Teen Ambassadors by tapping them into other Museum events. Here, Teen Ambassadors Nick and Emily attended the press preview for The Divine Comedy. Emily writes for her school’s newspaper, and will write an article about her experiences. Both had the opportunity to mingle with museum staff, artists, and professional journalist.

Julia presents in the gallery.
Julia Gallery Presentation

Amyra, Emily and Nick after the press preview.
Nick Emily Amyra

From the Underground Up: Building a Teen Docent Program at Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art @nmafateens

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Please note: We are please to announce Alli Hartley will be sharing an on-going series of post on what it is like to set up a Teen Docent program.  We hope this inspires conversations so please feel free to leave comments or tweet @nmafateens or us at @teensinmuseums

By:Alli Hartley is the Teen Ambassador Programs Intern

This spring at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, I have been tasked with building a “Teen Ambassador Program” for teens to volunteer with us throughout the museum. For those who are unfamiliar with us, the National Museum of Art is located on the National Mall in Washington D.C. Our mission is to inspire conversations about the beauty, power and diversity of African arts and cultures worldwide. We’re excited this spring to provide teens with the tools to promote cross-cultural understandings of Africa among our museum audiences.

Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 5.40.21 PMThe program launches Saturday February 28th , and the teens will participate in various trainings on weekends during the spring, before giving special teen tours to groups of other teens and eventually the general public in the early summer. The teens will also interact with the public by facilitating art carts. Teen Ambassadors will study artworks in our collection, but they will also have a chance to learn gallery teaching techniques used by museum educators worldwide. We will give our Ambassadors the opportunity to learn more about careers in the arts through interactions with museum staff across a range of departments as well as staff in other Smithsonian institutions. These interactions will include “meet the museum” sessions, during which staff from departments within our museum discuss their projects and careers, and cross-trainings with teen programs at other Smithsonian museums. Our anticipated outcomes include building leadership skills for the teens that can be applied to future careers both inside and outside of the arts, as well as unique exposure to art and -art-related career options.

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Guest Blog: Geffrye Museum Youth Panel as seen from a Member @GeffryeYouth

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Photogirls Wallace Event 24Jan14 16My name is Rosie Bayliss; I’m 17 and I’ve been a member of the Geffrye Museum Youth Panel (called the ‘YAP’) for approximately nine months now. The YAP is a way for young people (aged 14-24) to volunteer, leading them to gain a vast range of skills, which will later on be transferable to many different roles in the working world. The Geffrye Museum YAP is a very friendly and welcoming group, which means that everyone gets a chance to voice their opinion on the points of discussion. In our last YAP meeting I signed up for a training day on ‘Networking and Presentation Skills’ which was run by the East London Business Alliance (ELBA); this is an example of one of the many opportunities offered.

I joined the Geffrye Museum YAP as I am aiming to gain a career in museum/ gallery education, and I feel highly passionate about getting young people more involved with galleries and museums. I believe it is important for younger generations to grow up and appreciate history and to see how we have learnt about this history i.e. through sculpture, painting and architecture and also to appreciate the arts. The Geffrye Museum Youth Panel allows me to get involved with this; it allows me to get involved with creating events but also the other aspects behind the event, such as the marketing side.

The YAP Take-over event – ‘Royal Wonders @ the Wallace, The Wallace Collection:

 Wallace Event Jan14 92A typical Youth Panel meeting begins with an introduction, everyone is given an agenda sheet, which summarises the different points we will be talking about. During our meeting on Monday 13th January, we discussed further details of our upcoming event at the Wallace Collection, ‘Royal Wonders @ the Wallace’. We had two members of staff from the Wallace Collection attending the meeting, whom we have been collaborating with over ideas for the event over lots of YAP meetings in order to make the event a huge success. I was particularly keen on being involved with this event, as it is similar to the work that I would like to pursue. 

Our event at the Wallace Collection, ‘Royal Wonders @ the Wallace,’ was really successful. The Wallace Collection is a national museum that displays works of art that were collected in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by the first four Marquesses of Hertford and Sir Richard Wallace, the 4th Marquess of Hertford’s son. It was exciting to be able to hold an event here amongst many great works of art and it was the perfect place to hold our Royalty-themed event. In our YAP meetings we decided on having six different activities, all set in different rooms. These workshops ranged from ‘The Royal Treatment’, where you could dress up in armour, accessories and gowns and then have a photograph taken capturing your new royal look, to ‘Regal Portraits’ where you could have a caricature artist draw you as a current or past royal figure.  The YAP was really pleased with the outcome of the event and had a great time pretending to be a royal for a night!

 

 

Guest Blog: @TeenArtGallery Cabinets of Wonder: The Art of Collecting

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Guest Blog: Charlotte Lee, Director T.A.G.

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Nina Naghshineh, Shoe 2, clay, acrylic paint

Last summer, Teen Art Gallery received an email from the staff at The Children’s Museum of New York, asking about the possibility of a collaboration. T.A.G director, Charlotte Lee and team member, Cliff Tang sat down with them in the Fall and came up with a plan. The museum had a show of professional artists planned for February called Cabinets of Wonder: The Art of Collecting. The museums Youth program, Young Artist Kollective, (grades 6-9 ) were working on creating pieces along the same lines of the theme. TAG sat down with them to brainstorm. We taught them a bit about our curatorial and submissions process and then we presented them with a selection of works that we felt fit the theme. This was not simple because many of our submissions did not relate exactly to this theme. The students, however, found connections, made their selections and a show was born called Assembling Identity: Who We Are, What We Collect.

It includes art from the museums YAK program and 6 T.A.G artists :  Kaleigh Acevedo,  Savannah Carlin, Sasha Frolova, Henry Liddy, Mary Munshower, and Nina Naghshineh

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Mary Munshower, Happy Birthday, digital photography

Teen Art Gallery is a unique gallery created entirely by teenagers who curate and organize it. T.A.G’s mission is to give teen artists the opportunity to have their artwork exhibited in a gallery setting.  Teen Art Gallery provides a public platform for teen voices.  Since its founding in 2010, TAG has mounted 7 exhibitions in New York City of artists ages 12-19 and is in the planning stages of a show for June 2014

Experience Geffrye YAP with Orlane’s Guest Blog @GeffryeYouth

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Ever wondered what it was like to be part of a Youth Group in a museum?  Here Orlane Doumbe describes her experience.  Thanks for sharing Orlane!

 

By Orlane Doumbe

I joined the Geffrye YAP because I love to help being a part of something big. I love getting involved in activities and helping to organize events is really just a big bonus. I’ve only just joined in September and have only attended one YAP meeting – the atmosphere was so open and friendly, it felt like I’m already a part of the family! In this one meeting alone, I’ve signed up to participate in a half-term Digital Media workshop at the Wallace Collection with the Geffrye and Chocolate Films. Also, I will be able to help with a Chocolate Films upcoming project about London in the eyes of a Londoner. These are just a few of the many things I’ve done in two hours!

In a typical Geffrye YAP meeting, we all eat first. There’s plenty of refreshments for all of us which is very useful for me especially as I go there directly from school! After this, we’re given an agenda and during the meeting we go through as much as we can. We also take votes, sometimes we could watch things in relation to our topic(s) and most of all this is done in a relaxed environment. We also input our ideas in different forms. We can verbally communicate to each other or sometimes we can also write it on a post-it note and read them all out. My favourite thing I’ve gotten out of the Geffrye YAP so far is being able to work with a Digital Media Company for 3 and a half days. I’m so thrilled with this opportunity because I’ve always wanted to learn how to use Media from a professional viewpoint rather than the average Keek video or Instagram picture. If this is what you experience after a single meeting alone, I can’t wait to see what I will do in a year’s time.

I think other young people should join museum youth panels because it’s a really great way to balance literally everything. In museum youth panels you learn so much, you learn about collaboration and teamwork, debating and voting. All these qualities build up your self-confidence which is a key skill especially today. We also learn marketing when doing events, this helps with the financial aspect of it all; as you learn how to organise money in the best way possible. This is shown when you’re given a project and you’re given a budget to spend on the project. Not only this, it’s a great CV enhancement as it shows that you’re not just someone with their heads in books 24/7 but you’re an active citizen in your local community.

I think young people will get an open mind when visiting museums because it makes you more aware of the past. It personally motivates me because I think to myself if these people who are dead made such a mark on the earth that even their belongings such as sofas, sculptures etc. are still on display in our generation. I want to be a part of something like that when I’m older, and would then be able to motivate other young people who are looking at the works we’ve done. So visiting museums will enlighten or dishearten your view on history, it will make a difference to your perception of life and it also motivates you to make history yourself.

Guest Blog: A Year in the Life Of Teen Art Gallery 2012-2013 @TeenArtGallery

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tagDirector Charlotte Lee shares what life at Teen Art Gallery for a year was like.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  Thanks for sharing and the honesty! 

September

We have our first meeting of the year with our new T.A.G. Team. We don’t know each other that well yet and haven’t figured out how to work smoothly as a team. We need to decide out who will work on which aspects of the organization. Matthew Pasquarelli has already been improving the website. We set the date for the submissions period and all of us have the role of reaching out to different schools and art programs to solicit submissions. Chaya Howell will create fliers to put up in schools.  Everyone has interesting ideas It is a lively discussion; we talk about the website, fundraising, a possible TAG Zine, and the exhibitions.

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Diamond Friends Forever Guest Blog: third follow-up @DFF_DiaMu

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by Nathalie Brejaart & Brent Blockx

I2013-04-02 13.23.03t’s been three weeks since our last blog and there’s a lot going on right now.

In March we submerged our DFF youngsters in the world of Diamonds. They visited the Diamond museum in Grobbendonk and we took them on an exclusive tour through the ‘Diamond Square Mile’. So it can be said that the youngsters now have a lot of impressions and theoretical input.

Because we want to bring participatory tools into our museum we did some inspiration visits with the DFF’ers.

2013-04-02 14.11.41The first long trip was to Eindhoven where we visited the Van Abbemuseum, a contemporary art museum. On their website, they make it appear as if they’re a ‘curious museum’ and they want to convey this to their visitors. Therefore, we went out! Unfortunately, we found little curious elements in the exhibits on display. We learned later on that the curious (participatory) elements vary strongly from exhibit to exhibit.

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Teens in Museums Manifesto #teensinmuseums

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Teenagers are a hard to label group, although many have tried: Millennials, Generation We, Global Generation, the Millennial Generation, and Generation Next.  Regardless of the title we or anyone else give them, the fact is they are currently a stealth group in the cultural world — but this, happily, is changing.

Internationally, Teens in Museums and Culture are slowly getting the respect, time and resources needed to help build programs that they want, rather than programs that we think they want or that tick boxes. This is due to an influx of dedicated personnel who are inviting teens in to museums, taking the time to listen, and providing them the space and opportunity to let them create their own programs, to be involved in new exhibitions, and to have an impact on institutions and culture in their communities.

At the very least, every program should provide a platform for teens to share their thoughts, ideas, and passions.  If resources allow, progressive programs should assist the teens in providing them a channel to convert the ideas into a reality. For example, let them take over an area in the museum or gallery and listen to where they want the placement of artefacts. Or allow them to change the labels to be teen friendlier (and in ‘Plain English’). Share their voices with those of senior staff members and vice versa.

Many of us know of, or have at least heard of, programs like this.  The real challenge is sustainability.  How can we ensure the ‘Millennial Generation’ are allowed to forge their mark in the cultural world in a way that is both meaningful and realistic but also provides value to museums and galleries, as well as their visitors?

This challenge is different for each venue.

Excellent examples in the United States include Milwaukee Art Museum, Museum Teen Summit, and the Smithsonian EdLab; here within the UK, the Museum of London’s Youth Panel and Wolverhampton Art Gallery’s Art Forum each provide a dedicated platform for teens to work with the venue on a long-term bases, and most importantly with purpose.

Purpose, we feel, is key.

Being a teenager is difficult; you’re finding your feet. You’re not a child anymore, but you’re not quite an adult. You don’t want to be patronised, but you still need guidance while you establish yourself and gain confidence. So purpose and value is crucial. If what you are doing has a result and will change, enhance, or enrich yourself, the cultural institution, and/or the local, national, or global community, then it has purpose. It’s not an easy balance to achieve but it can be done, and we’ve seen it being done well.

With all this in mind, we felt an International Teens in Museum Decree/Manifesto was required.

  1. Listen to what Teens are saying. Answer their questions, question them, and work together to find answers and solutions.
  2. Engage with Teens; don’t patronize them.
  3. Provide achievable challenges which can created sustainable solutions.
  4. Promote learning as a challenge for Teens to solve.
  5. Create an environment where Teens can explore digital media where appropriate.
  6. Bring teens into projects from the start, not as an after thought.
  7. Provide adequate space and time for challenges to be achieved.
  8. Be flexible.  Many teens can’t commit to meeting same time every week.
  9. Don’t make assumptions. (For example, not all Teens have Facebook or iPhones.)
  10. Let teens actively build your institution’s assets.

What are your thoughts? Are you working with teens?  If so, we’d love to hear from you!  

Please join us on  Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin 

Teens in Museums is a coalition with Mar DixonMilwaukee Art Museum, Museum Teen Summit, and the Smithsonian EdLab (NB Museum of London Youth Panel joined as of Sept 28)

If you would like your venue to get involved, please let us know.