“Many kids don’t naturally see themselves in the museum, but when you bring the museum staff to their school and there is a multiple-day connection—it’s like, ‘hey, we can connect to you in our environment.’ It’s very powerful.” – Nina Unitas, Pittsburgh Public Schools
You make the four Carnegie Museums feel like home. That connection may have started early and quite naturally, as a wide-eyed child accompanying your parents or grandparents to the museums for family time full of wonder and discovery. Or perhaps those connections came by way of education programs, on- or off-site, that managed to take the museums’ seemingly infinite collections and turn them into something uniquely personal to you. Whether the museums are physically open or engaging with you digitally, the common thread that makes their work so meaningful is you!
Last year, in a museum experience that’s all about personalization, Carnegie Museum of Art educators collaborated with teachers and students on Create Your Museum, a prototype program designed around project-based museum experiences that reached nearly 800 students from 13 schools, including three Pittsburgh Public Schools fourth-grade classes. These multiple-session experiences included in-school classroom visits by museum educators. “Many kids don’t naturally see themselves in the museum, but when you bring the museum staff to their school and there is a multiple-day connection—it’s like, ‘hey, we can connect to you in our environment.’ It’s very powerful,” says Nina Unitas, coordinator of visual arts and design in the curriculum office of Pittsburgh Public Schools.
Finding deeply personal connections with the community also happens through special partnerships, such as the collaboration between The Andy Warhol Museum and Highmark Caring Place, a center for families grieving the loss of loved ones. Four times a year, artist-educators at The Warhol give a group of young people from the Caring Place the chance to connect with loved ones lost too soon. Using the silk-screening process made famous by Andy Warhol, they take cherished photographs of their deceased loved ones and turn them into artwork. “It’s like spending an hour or two with Mom or Dad,” says Andrea Lurier, a psychologist and program manager of Highmark Caring Place. “The kids aren’t just making art; they are making memories. It’s beautiful to watch the moment when the first print comes up.”
“She could do this all day,” says the mother of Nyelia, one young participant. “This is up her alley. It makes me smile to see her happy and doing something with her father and keeping his memory alive.”
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