Museum Education Programs for Culturally Diverse Communities


Tate Modern – London, UK. 2018

“While acquiring and collecting fine art is still a privilege for most of us, museums are becoming a channel that connects the art and the artist with the culturally diverse community. “

Mariel Robles

Matisse, Tate Modern – London, UK. 2018

Superflex, Tate Modern – London, UK. 2018

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Tate Modern – London, UK. 2018

While acquiring and collecting fine art is still a privilege for most of us, museums are becoming a channel that connects the art and the artist with the culturally diverse community. I feel privileged that my dad fostered a love for the arts since I was a little girl. Unfortunately, that is not a possibility for every child, especially those from underprivileged communities, where the lack of educational and monetary resources make living more challenging. All students have the right to a well-rounded education that includes the exposure to world class museums and artwork that can make a difference in their lives. Yet, some students do not have access to high quality educational resources and facilities. From my experience teaching in the classroom and in the galleries, I see a big potential in museums to provide students with a unique, personalized, dynamic experience that will foster a love for the arts, enrich their classroom learning and increase their cultural awareness.

How do we make art accessible for all? According to a publication about culturally diverse families and museum engagement, “parents found the content in art museums inaccessible and difficult to understand.” In other words, they were intimidated by the content presented at the museums, and preferred attending more familiar places like the zoo or a park. Educating over one thousand culturally diverse students and teachers has allowed me to create meaningful projects that engage diverse learners in art museums, while developing their design and critical thinking skills. These students, in turn, will serve as the driving force to bring families back to the museum and act as the guide between the art work and the parent. 

How do we help these families feel welcomed and valued at an art museum? The first step is to connect with the audience we want to reach by learning more about their culture. Speaking their language makes them feel that we care about them. My role as a Bilingual Educator allows me to build close relationships with members of diverse communities around the Austin area, learn about their culture, and craft engaging multidisciplinary, culturally-relevant lessons that make art fun and accessible for them. My experience as an immigrant, having a background in STEM education, and having the opportunity to work with diverse communities in school and museum settings will be highly beneficial to help museums and organizations in their efforts of serving diverse audiences. 

References:

Cecilia Garibay. ‘Responsive and Accessible: How Museums are using research to Better Engage Diverse Cultural Communities.’ ASTC Dimensions. January-February 2011, p 4-6.

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