Enquiremanchester’s Weblog

The Manchester Museum is the lead museum in the North West Manchester cluster in a national project about art and learning for engage called ‘enquire’

enquire is on the move November 20, 2008

Filed under: Alchemy Enquire — enquiremanchester @ 2:56 pm
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We had our first meeting with Alice from Levenshulme High School on Tuesday. I’d already met with artist Dena Bagi a couple of times before in the museum’s resource centre to talk about the project.

Bagi and Day discussing enquire

Dena and I went along to talk to art teacher, Alice, about Dena’s ideas and to discuss how we could all work best together on the project.  We ran over the aims and objectives for the project which were broken down into points for students, artist, teacher/school, museum educator and museum curator separately.  The question I have identified for the project is:  How can schools, artists and museums work collaboratively to deliver successful, sustained and sustainable art projects where each of the participants is considered to be a learner? By viewing each of the participants as learners we’ll be looking at how collaborating together can also mean that we learn together and identify our own roles within the collaboration.  In considering ‘successful, sustained and sustainable art projects’ we’ll be looking at what makes a project successful, the differences for learning between longer projects and our one-off workshops, and at how we continue to offer sustained projects to schools in the future.

As the museum educator, my learning is focused around how I foster the collaborative partnership and how I develop the framework for this model of working.  Its also about what my role as a museum educator is for this project – should I be at all the delivered sessions, how much information or support do I need to give to each of the participants, and what’s the best way to evaluate the ‘success’ of the project – what does ‘success’ even mean?

The meeting with Alice reminded me that there is no ‘perfect’ way to go about a project.  I’d suggested that Dena try not to make any hard and fast plans before meeting Alice because I didn’t want the teacher to feel outside of the project from the beginning.  However, Dena did have some pretty developed ideas about what she wanted to do – the project is to be based around her practice after all – but Alice had no problem with thinking about how Dena’s plans would be appropriate for the class or the national curriculum.  So I needn’t have worried about Dena developing her ideas in advance of meeting Alice.  This might have been more difficult for other teachers though, as we’ve found in the past.

 

Art Forms in Nature – in the Life Lab November 11, 2008

dsc004551Last week we were joined by 15 students from Droylesden High School for Girls their teacher who took part in our Art Forms in Nature session up in the Life Lab and down in the birds and insects gallery below.

The girls seemed to be interested in what was going on at the museum from the moment they arrived. Only two of the 15 students had been to a museum before, yet they were soon keying into current debates like the ethics of having human remains and animal remains on display.

The beginning of the session asked the students to interpret scientific illustrations for themselves without any prior knowledge of what they are looking at. This is not an easy task for any artist or art historian but the students were soon coming up with a range of their own interpretations which showed how just by looking and discussing they could understand how art works communicate ideas for themselves.

dsc004571After identifying a range of creative techniques, the students went down onto the galleries to draw from the real insects and birds on display. They were challenged with a number of experimental drawing techniques which reminded them to take risks with their work and not to always be so focused on final outcomes. Two drawings stood out from this, a bird and a butterfly – both drawn with the wrong hand – looked as if they could have just fluttered away.

In the final part of the session the girls developed their drawings into design ideas for furniture, jewelery, wallpaper or architecture. This part of the session involved the girls thinking about how they could turn their documentation of natural objects into a functional design. This was a big step to take within the two hour session but meant the students had the chance to experiment with a range of materials and see how their research at the museum could be turned into something useful.

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New enquire Publication November 4, 2008

Filed under: Alchemy Enquire,Background,Evaluation — enquiremanchester @ 9:11 am
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The new en-quire publication ‘Inspring Learning in Galleries 02; Excellence and Inclusion’ has just been sent out.  Its a comprehensive overview of the work the engage has supported as part of its enquire strand over the last two years, covering all the participating clusters working in England.

As mentioned before, these clusters work in partnership with schools/youth groups, galleries, artists and higher education professionals to develop the action research. This research programme focuses on how children and young people can learn through galelries, contemporary art and artists.  In Phase 1 of enquire, which The Manchester Museum was not part of, took place in 2004-2006 and invovled three clusters.  For Phase 2 the number of clusters grew to seven and The Manchester Museum became invovled at this stage.  This new report highlights the last two years of work of these seven clusters and some of the things we have learnt as part of this programme – you can read about this in an earlier post

Here is an image of the report, in case you happen accross it in your area of practice and click here to download them from the enquire website.