Course Encourages Students to Develop Museum Programming for Children

Museum Studies course group photo

The Museum Studies course offered by the Art & Art History Department is designed to introduce students to a wide variety of tasks involved with running a museum—among them, curatorial methods and exhibition design, catalogue writing, and collection display. Taught by Dr. Barbara McNulty, director of the Suzanne H. Arnold Art Gallery, students in the class oversaw the development of educational programming and tours at the College’s gallery. 

After first visiting SPLAT Studio here in Annville, students were able to plan their own museum tours. One of SPLAT’s long-running programs for young children is “The Art of Reading,” which focuses on studying picture books and how illustrations are used to tell the story. 

“From SPLAT, we took away a better understanding of how to integrate art into a community, and one of the best mechanisms for this is through education,” said Hannah Dieringer ’17.

The exhibit at the Arnold Art Gallery during the class was Jerry Pinkney’s Imaginings: An Artist’s Exploration of Images and Words. It featured illustrations that Pinkney created for numerous well-known children’s books. Such an exhibit proved to be the perfect tie-in for the children in SPLAT Studio’s “Art of Reading” program. The Museum Studies students planned educational programming for the children that involved different activities or engagement with the stories themselves.

“I created a scavenger hunt that allowed the kids to work at their own pace and take time to look at each of the illustrations,” said Blade Umstead ’16. “What I enjoyed most was giving each kid the opportunity to pick their favorite illustration. Each chose a different painting and had reasons for why they liked said painting.” 

For part of her own tour, Dieringer read aloud from Pinkney’s illustrated version of The Tortoise and the Hare—the kids loved being able to see the pictures hanging right above them in the Gallery.

“The SPLAT program taught me how impactful it is for a child to visit and interact with a gallery,” said Umstead. “Trying to expose kids to art and making it a fun experience can give them a lasting positive memory. For some kids, this can lead to a spark in their own curiosity and a desire to learn more.” 

Nurturing creativity and a desire to learn is key when it comes to young children, and art is one of the best ways to do so. The SPLAT Studio and Arnold Art Gallery visit provided a fun and interactive experience that is a two-way learning street for the kids and LVC students alike as they explore the area of educational programming in museums.