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Home > Research > Publications > Annual Reports > 1996-97 Annual Report

The Museum Education Office


Carole Krucoff

Two years ago, the Elizabeth Morse Genius Charitable Trust awarded the Museum Education Program a generous grant to develop a strategic plan for educational programming during the Museum's closure for climate control and renovation. When the galleries closed in 1996, that plan was put to the test, and it came through with flying colors! Undaunted by renovation, we used classrooms and Breasted Hall to the fullest for on-site activities. Collaborative programs with campus organizations as well as cultural institutions city-wide are providing off-site locations and the chance to reach new audiences. Necessity, rightly termed the "mother of invention," inspired experimentation with old program formats and the creation of entirely new activities. As a result of our planning, Museum Education is still providing a full schedule of educational services for adults, a wide variety of programs for children and their families, and a rich array of learning experiences specifically designed for teachers and students in the Chicago Public Schools.

School and Teacher Services

In the summer of 1996 the Museum Education Office completed a comprehensive three-and-one-half-year program to make the Oriental Institute's world-renowned resources available to a wide-ranging cross-section of underserved Chicago Public Schools. Supported by a major grant from the Polk Bros. Foundation, this partnership project - entitled the Oriental Institute/Chicago Public Schools Collaboration for the World History Curriculum - provided three series of semester-long seminars on the ancient Near East for teachers from public schools throughout the city. The project also involved more than 5,000 sixth-and seventh-grade students in extensive museum and classroom programming, and it produced a broad range of curriculum materials based upon the Institute's artifact and archival collections. Equally valuable was the classroom visitor program that brought graduate student archaeologists, historians, and linguists, as well as Oriental Institute and community-based artists, into the public schools to show children how the Institute learns about the ancient past.

In August 1996, the Polk Bros. Foundation awarded Museum Education a new, two-year grant to continue and expand the Collaboration for the World History Curriculum during the time of the Museum's closure for renovation. The new grant supports continued programming for all of the original partner schools and expansion to six additional schools, bringing the partnership total to twenty-two public schools located across the city. New services funded by the grant include translation of the project's student materials into Spanish, an important need for a school system where the Hispanic student population has reached 30%; development of education materials related to ancient arts, supplementing the dwindling arts programming in the city's schools; and research into ways the Oriental Institute's computer resources - its award-winning World-Wide Web site and Virtual Museum - can be integrated into the Chicago Public Schools curriculum.

In addition, the Polk Bros. Foundation grant provided support to create a guided tour program jointly with the Smart Museum of Art, where a selection of Oriental Institute artifacts are on view during the Museum's temporary closure.

This past fall, Terry Friedman and Catherine Dueñas, Oriental Institute Volunteer Coordinators, worked closely with Kathleen Gibbons, Smart Museum Education Director, to prepare Oriental Institute Docents for tours that relate ancient art from the Oriental Institute to the objects on view at the Smart Museum. The tours, begun in October, have been a great success with partner schools, where teachers see student horizons expanding through firsthand encounters with ancient and contemporary art. Oriental Institute Volunteers who have taken part in this unique tour program include Docent Captain Mary Shea, and Docents Rebecca Binkley, Bettie Dwinell, Patricia Hume, George Junker, Nina Longley, Jo Lucas, Rita Picken, Bernadette Strnad, Anne Schumacher, and Carole Yoshida.

Over the past four years, the driving force behind the Oriental Institute/Chicago Public Schools project has been Carol Redmond, Museum Education Outreach Coordinator. Along with developing all of the museum aspects of the project, Carol organized the corps of graduate students and artists whose classroom visits have brought the study of the ancient Near East to life for thousands of Chicago Public School students. This year, the team of graduate student visitors included Tracy Alsberg, John Barstad, Scott Branting, Tom Dousa, Jill Ashley Fine, Nicole Hansen, and Alexandra O'Brien. Visiting artists and epigraphers included John and Debbie Darnell from the Epigraphic Survey; Bob Godamski, artist and educator who demonstrates ancient Nubian leatherworking techniques; Douglas Irving, musician and visual artist who shows students how to make and then play ancient-style musical instruments; Kate Luchini, artist and former Oriental Institute Preparator who demonstrates how the papyrus plant was turned into ancient-style "paper"; Randolph Olive, current Oriental Institute Preparator who demonstrates woodworking as it was done in ancient Egypt; Hardy Schlick, a ceramicist who teaches students ancient techniques for hand-building pottery; and Jacquie Vaughn, a textile artist and educator who demonstrates ancient Mesopotamian methods of spinning and weaving.

This spring, Carol Redmond moved to Colorado to take a position as arts educator at a museum in the Denver area. But electronic mail allows her to remain a consultant to the project she led with such creativity and dedication. William Pattison, Associate Professor Emeritus in the University's Department of Education, and Sara Spurlark, Associate Director of the University's Center for School Improvement, are also consultants. Their guidance and expertise have been invaluable to the project since its inception.

In May of this year, Anna Rochester, formerly Education Programs Assistant, became Museum Education Outreach Coordinator, the staff member who supervises the Oriental Institute/Chicago Public Schools project. Anna is an experienced educator who helped found and administer Aerie Academy, a private school for students in grades K-12 in Eugene, Oregon. This fall she will receive a Master of Arts in Art Education from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. It is a pleasure to have Anna with us!

Public Programs

Designed to attract and serve a broad and diverse audience, education programs for the general public were a combination of familiar favorites and new experiments this past year. Even as the galleries closed their doors, participation in adult education programs rose to more than 900 registrants, an increase of 29% over last year. Single session programs led the way, with a full calendar of one-day mini-courses, field trips throughout the city, and new series of film seminars to accompany the Institute's long-standing tradition of free Sunday afternoon film showings.

This year's mini-courses were collaborative ventures. "A Woman's World: Being Female in the Ancient Near East," featured Professors Janet Johnson, Martha Roth and David Schloen, who used documents and artifacts from ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Israel to explore ancient Near Eastern women's lives and concerns. This special seminar was co-sponsored by the University's Center for Gender Studies. "Portraits: Ancient to Modern" was offered in conjunction with Faces of Ancient Egypt, an exhibit of art from the Oriental Institute's collection that was on view for six months at the Smart Museum of Art. At this seminar, presenters Emily Teeter, Oriental Institute Associate Curator, and Kathleen Gibbons, Smart Museum Education Director, compared ancient Egyptian portraiture with examples of figurative art from the Smart Museum's collection. "Paint Like an Egyptian," offered in collaboration with the Smart Museum and the Hyde Park Art Center, was a hands-on ancient arts processes workshop taught by Emily Teeter and artist Kate Luchini.

Field trips throughout Chicago attracted many participants. "Ancient Arts/Contemporary Artists," a field trip series that began in 1995, continued this year with a lecture on the history of glassworking by Carol Meyer, Oriental Institute Research Associate, followed by a visit to Talisman Glass Studio where glassblower Kathleen McCarthy demonstrated both ancient and modern glassmaking techniques. Ingrid Mattson, a Ph.D. candidate in Islamic Studies in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, led a field trip to the Chicago Cultural Center to view "The Right to Write," a traveling exhibit of calligraphic works from the collection of the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts. "Egypt in Chicago," a one-day trip that offered insiders' views on the city's three major collections of ancient Egyptian art, was led by Emily Teeter, Oriental Institute Associate Curator; Frank Yurco, consulting Egyptologist for the Field Museum of Natural History; and Mary Greuel, Research Associate in the Department of European and Decorative Arts and Sculpture, and Classical Art at the Art Institute. Held in the fall and repeated in the spring, both sessions of this field trip were sold out almost as soon as they were announced.

More informal adult education opportunities were also available throughout the year, beginning in September when Janet Helman presented "A Docent Digs in Egypt," a slide lecture in conjunction with the statewide observance of Illinois Archaeology Awareness Week. Each month during the fall, Oriental Institute Docent Carole Yoshida offered gallery talks highlighting the Faces of Ancient Egypt exhibit that was on view at the Smart Museum of Art. In March, John Sanders, Head of the Computer Laboratory, used the new, big-screen computer projection system in Breasted Hall to take visitors on a tour of the Institute's World-Wide Web site and Virtual Museum.

Breasted Hall was also the place to spend some time in ancient times, at the movies. "Ancient Egypt Goes Hollywood," a new film festival and seminar series, highlighted three classic "sword and sandal" epics that were shown and then discussed by Egyptologist Michael Berger. "Archaeology on Film" featured a series of Sunday afternoon conversations with scholars on the ways archeology is presented in documentary films. These programs were led by John Larson, Museum Archivist, Emily Teeter, Associate Curator, and Professor K. Asl1han Yener.

Six- and eight-week adult education courses were not forgotten this past year. Courses offered at the Institute included: "Judaism in the Time of Jesus" and "Biblical Prophecy and the End of the World" taught by Anthony Tomasino; "Religion in Ancient Egypt," "Egypt and Nubia in Antiquity," and the final two sections of a course on the "History of Ancient Egypt" by Frank Yurco; "The Egyptian Mummy in Fact and Fiction" by John Larson; "Ancient Babylon" by Daniel Nevez; and "Making of a Culture: Early Islamic Social History" by Ingrid Mattson.

In addition to courses at the Institute, Museum Education continued its efforts to reach new audiences and expand adult education services by concentrating on three specific approaches - classes offered at new locations, classes taught by correspondence, and courses offered over the Internet.

Begun in 1995, courses held off-site started with a class co-sponsored by the Education Office and Trinity United Methodist Church of Wilmette. This fall we joined forces again to offer "Everyday Life in Ancient Israel," which was taught by Timothy Harrison at the church's North Shore location. Harrison also taught "Peoples of the Biblical World," our second off-site course, which was held at the First Lutheran Church of DeKalb.

"Hieroglyphs by Mail," the popular correspondence course, had a record-breaking enrollment of sixty-five participants this year. Emily Teeter taught the course, with Thomas Dousa and Alexandra O'Brien as teaching assistants. And for the very first time, correspondence classes moved beyond languages to present an ancient Near Eastern history course. "Ancient Babylon by Mail" was taught by Daniel Nevez as a companion course for those who could not attend his on-campus class. Participants ranged from suburban residents to people from across the United States, and their sentiments, as expressed in written evaluations, applauded the subject matter. One person represented many when she said, "I am delighted you offered this course as I am fascinated with Middle East history … I hope you will do another one SOON!" Others expressed appreciation at being able to take Oriental Institute adult education courses even though distance, job responsibilities, illness - or even highway construction! - prevented them from attending classes on campus. Such positive response means Nevez' course can be a model for the development of an entire series of Museum Education correspondence courses.

Another model course took Museum Education into cyberspace. "Introduction to Ancient Egypt," the first University of Chicago continuing education class to be offered over the Internet, was taught by Peter Piccione, who did a masterful job of organizing this first-time experiment. Piccione spent countless hours producing on-line lectures, text translations, and graphic materials that were highly praised by participants who had signed up for the class from across the nation and around the world. Special thanks go to John Sanders, Head of the Oriental Institute's Computer Laboratory; without his expertise and ongoing assistance, the course could never have taken place. William Sumner, Oriental Institute Director, supported this project from its inception and provided guidance to us all throughout the entire course. "Introduction to Ancient Egypt" put the Oriental Institute on the distance learning map when the New York Times and the Washington Post covered this high-tech method of learning about the ancient world.

The Internet also provides a new way to share information about our adult education courses, as well as other Oriental Institute public programs. The Education Office now has its own World-Wide Web page with a handsome design that is maintained by Kaylin Goldstein, Education Programs Associate. A registration form enables people to enroll in programs by electronic mail and we see attendance figures increasing with new participants from throughout the metropolitan area, as well as national and world-wide registrations for courses by correspondence and the Internet.

Marketing in other areas continues, too, thanks once again to the talents of Kaylin Goldstein, who serves as Museum Education's public relations officer, media contact person, and graphics design expert. Under Kaylin's direction, the Education Office produces quarterly calendars of events, adult education brochures, and press packets that inform local media and the general public about programs taking place throughout the year. Much of our success during this renovation period is due to Kaylin's creativity and organizational ability as well as her patience, good judgment, and her genuine interest in public programming within a university setting.

Emily Napolitano, Education Programs Assistant, is our newest staff member. Emily, who joined the Education Department as a part-time employee in April, is a graduate of the University's Department of Anthropology. She supervises registrations and financial bookkeeping for all of the reserved programs, provides general information services, assists with graphic design projects, and her experience in working with children's programs makes her services invaluable at the events that we offer for youth and families.

Children and their families are a major museum audience that the Education Office is continuing to serve during closure. Over the past year, more than 2,500 participants joined us for events offered in collaboration with a wide variety of the city's cultural institutions, who invited us to join them in offering programs at their sites. These partnerships with old friends and new collaborators allowed us to reach children and families from across the entire metropolitan area.

Last summer, Museum Education joined forces with Lill Street Studio to offer "Be An Ancient Egyptian Artist," the first Oriental Institute day camp. Designed for children ages 7-12, this week-long program held at Lill Street's north-side location gave youngsters a hands-on introduction to ancient-style spinning and weaving, pottery-making, leatherwork, and metalsmithing. Joint programming with Lill Street Studio continued throughout the year with "Mummy Dearest," a Halloween-related event led by Lill Street staff in the fall, and "Magical Babylon," a tile-making workshop led by Anna Rochester in the spring.

For the third year in a row, the Chicago Park District invited us to join their summer Mini-Festivals for Families, providing us with funding to present ancient-arts activities in the city's parks. Amanda Geppert ably coordinated this program, assisted by Sarah Burge and Tasneem Khoka, University of Chicago students who served as Museum Education summer interns. Adrienne Runge, Family Programs Volunteer, brought ancient history to life when she appeared dressed as Nefertiti in a magnificent costume that she designed and created based on original sources.

In the fall we emphasized reading and books as we took part in two events - the 57th Street Children's Book Fair, where the Oriental Institute has had a booth for many years, and "Book-a-Mania" at the Harold Washington Library, where we made our first appearance and showed hundreds of children and parents how to make a replica scroll that represented an ancient-Egyptian-style "book." In the spring, we introduced families to plants and animals of the ancient Near East at an Earth Day celebration in collaboration with the Garfield Park Conservatory, Friends of the Parks, and the Chicago Children's Museum.

The Faces of Ancient Egypt exhibit at the Smart Museum of Art inspired several Oriental Institute/Smart Museum programs for families. These included fall and spring events that featured free treats, face-painting, films, hands-on crafts, and "Awesome African Arts," a special family festival that was held in February in conjunction with African-American History Month. Education staff at both museums also collaborated on the production of a Smart Museum treasure hunt for families that compared and contrasted art objects from ancient through modern times. This treasure hunt was available to all of the visitors who saw the exhibit from the Oriental Institute's collection during its six-month showing at the Smart Museum of Art.

Continuation of programming with closed galleries was a challenge we could not have met without the support, expertise, and goodwill of every member of the Oriental Institute's faculty and staff. And nothing would be happening without the vision, dedication, and enthusiasm of the Education Department's support staff. Special thanks go to Catherine Dueñas and Terry Friedman who have provided Museum Education with the same selfless service they give to the new and highly successful Volunteer Outreach Program. All of us are delighted that the challenge we faced has resulted in meaningful educational services that can continue during renovation and hold great promise for the years to come.

Revised: July 30, 2007

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