Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Remembering the 2011 Season

Since the museum is closed for the season, the Education department has sadly said goodbye to the guides and carefully stowed away their work materials. But, the work is far from over. Education staff will spend the next six months preparing for the 2012 season and beyond.  I asked staff members to share their favorite memory of the season as well as what projects they expect to work on in the upcoming winter months.

Fellow Angela Pratt remembers when her Week in 1795 summer campers learned how to contra dance – a popular form of entertainment during the late 18th century – and one camper fell down laughing within a spiral of fellow dancers. She remembers that moment with a smile because her campers got to “imaginatively recreate a historical tradition through play, which they might not have a chance to do in school”

Academic Programs Coordinator Hannah Weisman also appreciates the creative opportunities the museum’s summer camps provide to local children. She is grateful for our partnerships with organizations like the King Street Center, Sara Holbrook Community Center, and several elementary schools; which allow us to award children involved with those organizations scholarships to attend one weeklong camp at the museum.

In the same spirit of community outreach, Hannah will be working with the Turning Points in American History program this winter to help Vermont teachers learn how to integrate primary sources (a document, object, image of a historical period under study) into their lessons. Hannah asserts that primary sources, like the artwork collected by museum founder Electra Havemeyer Webb “help students think critically about history as well as form their own opinions about historical events.”

Looking back at her Sunsets events, Renee Compagna, the Family Programs Coordinator chuckles as she thinks about the little girls participating in the doll fashion show; amazed at how even at their young age they all knew how to strike a pose. “It’s pretty awesome,” she says. Renee will quickly start creating a special events schedule for 2012, which has to be set in stone by February in time for the museum’s “What’s On” publication. On top of that, she will soon start coming up with a list of next season’s Owl Cottage art activities. “The second I wrap up my review of 2011 and my office is organized I start work on the 2012 season.”

Karen Petersen, the Director of Education & Public Programming, stated that the “announcement of the new building was amazing for the museum.” She’s looking forward to “strategic planning with all the departments about the new building and year-round programming.”

The announcement of the new center for art and education at Shelburne Museum has brought a palpable excitement to the department. Adult Programs Coordinator, Katelyn Ziegler, will be trying to figure out what programs, like Art at Hand and Lunchbox Lectures, will look like in a year-round space.

It’s hard not to look back fondly at the 2011 season nor is it easy to contain the excitement of the possibilities for tomorrow. But, in retrospect neither Angela Pratt nor I were prepared to enter Dutton House a week after the museum’s closing. The collections management had just installed the blackout shades in all the windows – cutting off the only source of light into the house. We simply needed to collect the guide procedural handbook, but instead we got a test in true bravery. “It was terrifying,” Angela remembers. Paired with the screaming wind coming from the upstairs, we felt as though the house did not like our presence. We got the book and bolted from the house. Lesson for next year: find someone else to get the book.

The 2012 season opens on May 13 and runs through October 28. Check the museum web site in coming weeks for information about upcoming exhibits. 

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