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Museum education program brings schoolchildren closer to art

The Florida Atlantic University Museum Education Program, founded in 1998, has a partnership with the Boys and Girls Clubs of both Palm Beach and Broward Counties to promote art among middle and high school students with emphasis on the disadvantaged and those who speak Spanish.

“FAU students are pretty close to the age of middle and high school students, so most kids respond well to a peer leading them around and sharing with them the college experience,” said, Jeffrey Groves, FAU Galleries Museum Education Program coordinator and an FAU art history student.

Initial training for FAU students take place in the Museum Studies and Galleries Practices course taught by W. Rod Faulds, the University Galleries’ director. The course emphasizes interactive educational theories and techniques to efficiently teach in a museum environment, such as the Galleries.

The program at FAU is one of the few in the nation that emphasizes building strong ties with public schools, as well as after-school programs, to encourage children to experience and learn from visual arts.

This program is recognized and approved by the School District of Palm Beach County for public school field trips, according to the Museum Education Program Web site www.fau.edu/galleries.MuseumEdNew.php

In addition to interactive tours, the program also provides other activities, such as outreach presentations in schools, as well as offering children a regular studio art program at the Wayne Barton Study Center in Boca Raton two days a week.

“The most gratifying part of museum education is seeing kids look at art for more than five seconds. They always surprise us with their insight,” Groves said.

The Museum Education Program produces two “Field Experience Guides for Teachers” each academic year, which consist of a variety of approaches and cross- disciplinary content suggestions, according to the Web site.

“We are always looking for ways to improve the program, Jeff has helped us a lot by bringing many new ideas to the table, without him none of the activities in 2008 would have been possible,” Faulds said.

The program has served several cities, including Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Deerfield Beach, West Palm Beach and Lake Worth. The University Galleries also received a grant from the Community Foundation of Palm Beach and Martin Counties to expand the program to underprivileged children through after-school programs.




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