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New educational spaces come to life

New educational spaces come to life

With the 2009 fall semester considered the academic launch of the new UMMA—the first full semester since its reopening—the Museum’s educational spaces are springing to life as a bustling hub of teaching and learning, with students, classes, and activities, fulfilling the Museum’s mission to connect with our broader University audiences. Though the entire Museum is designed to engage, inspire, and provoke on an educational level, this suite of classrooms and spaces is purpose-built for even greater and more intimate and directed access to UMMA’s renowned collections.

Located primarily on the lower level of the Frankel Wing, UMMA’s Education Center includes two object study classrooms—one, the Ernestine and Herbert Ruben Study Center for Works on Paper, and the other devoted to 3D object study—which are designed to allow faculty from a variety of disciplines to incorporate original works of art in their syllabi; two classrooms, which are centrally scheduled by the University; the Marvin and Phyllis Dolinko Curatorial Research Center, a wonderful new resource that includes books, archives, and digital resources for students, faculty, and scholars to increase research about and teaching with UMMA’s collections; the already well-booked 225-seat Helmut Stern Auditorium, new home of the Zell Creative Writing Series and a film series curated by the program in Screen Arts and Cultures; and the Charles Sawyer Center for Museum Studies, home of the University’s Museum Studies Program.

All of these wonderful educational spaces bring myriad opportunities for faculty and students to engage more closely with the Museum’s remarkable Western, Asian, African, and modern and contemporary collections.

The Dolinko Curatorial Research Center (CRC)allows professors, students, and the public the opportunity to meet with the Museum’s librarian for a guided search of the resources available about the collections. For instructors, this research may direct them to specific objects from the UMMA collections to use in their courses. The object study classroom and the Ruben Center for works on paper study allow educators to view and teach from objects not currently on view in the galleries.

Sara Blair, UM professor of English language and literature, says “close work with images helps me alert my students to the ways in which literary texts respond to the visual practices and visual ways of knowing that are so central to modern culture. I also use visual objects to help my students think about the varied meanings of form.”

Associate professor of history Nancy Rose Hunt is devoting a lecture and discussion sessions of her Modern African History course to the study of works of African art from the Museum’s collections in order to explore varying contexts and historical insights gleaned through objects.

To schedule an appointment in the CRC or to request a reservation for one of the study classrooms, please visit www.umma.umich.edu/education/university.html. The CRC is open for appointments from 1 to 5 pm, Tuesdays through Fridays. Requests for particular objects and reservations for up to 20 people in the study classrooms are scheduled on a first come, first served basis; the suggested lead time for requests is 15 business days.

Just outside the object study classrooms in the corridor of the Education Center are several cabinets that may be reserved by professors to display works of art for students for up to two weeks. These cabinets are adjacent to one of two Open Storage galleries in the Museum (the Monroe-Brown Study-Storage Gallery is located on the second floor of Alumni Memorial Hall), which provide visual access to an even greater range of the Museum’s collections.

The Ann Arbor Art Center offers art making classes in the first-floor Multipurpose Room—a welcome opportunity for students to participate in studio art classes right on central campus.

UM courses including English, creative writing, history, political science, and art history are held in two classrooms, truly integrating UMMA into the rich fabric of the academy and positioning the university art museum as the town square for the 21st century.

Stephanie Rieke Miller
External Relations Manager and Senior Writer

Special thanks to the Institute of Museum and Library Services for its support of UMMA’s Open Storage installations, Curatorial Research Center, and Object Study Rooms.