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Home > Research > Publications > Annual Reports > 1994-95 Annual Report

The Museum Education Office


Carole Krucoff

Museum education services expanded greatly this year, accompanied by dramatic growth in education program participation. New audiences were introduced to the Museum through joint programming with partners that ranged from campus groups and Chicago-area museums to collaboration with regional and national organizations. Two multi-year grants continued to support special programming for Chicago's families and the city's public schools. This year, the award of a major planning grant is also allowing us to explore possibilities for outreach programming at schools and many other locations when the Museum closes temporarily for climate control and renovation.

School and Teacher Services

The Museum Education Office has just completed the second year of a three-and-a-half year outreach program designed to make the Oriental Institute's world-renowned resources for the study of ancient civilizations available to a wide-ranging cross-section of underserved Chicago Public Elementary Schools. Supported by a major grant from the Polk Bros. Foundation, this program includes teacher training, multiple museum visits for student groups, collaborative creation of curriculum materials by teachers and museum educators, and development of Oriental Institute outreach programming to the schools. Carol Redmond, Education Outreach Coordinator, works on this project, with the assistance of Oriental Institute faculty and staff, and William Pattison and Sara Spurlark, of the University of Chicago's Department of Education. Docent Coordinators Cathy Dueñas and Terry Friedman also offer invaluable inspiration and guidance to the project, as they do for every aspect of museum education programming.

Figure 1. A student at Philip H. Sheridan School proudly displays his model of the Great Pyramid at Giza during the "Ancient Egypt Fair" presented by his class. Sheridan is one of thirteen elementary schools particpating in the Oriental Institute/Chicago Public Schools outreach program supported by the Polk Bros. Foundation. Photograph by Alice Vernon.

Since the Polk Bros. Foundation project began in 1993, nearly twenty-five hundred Chicago Public School 6th- and 7th-grade students have visited the Oriental Institute on field trips they never would have taken without the support of this grant-funded program. The students' teachers, a panel of twenty-three 6th- and 7th-grade educators from thirteen different Chicago schools, have been meeting regularly with Education Office staff and the Museum's curators to develop classroom materials and teaching approaches that will meet a wide variety of student needs. High on the list is a "lending library" of artifact reproductions for the schools. Building upon the mini-museum loan boxes created by Joan Barghusen, Carol Redmond, who is an arts education specialist, has created beautifully crafted, authentic reproductions for new Archaeology Treasure Chests that will bring material culture from ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Nubia directly into the classroom.

Introducing students to the excitement of how the Institute researches the ancient past is another important aspect of this collaborative project. This year, a newly formed corps of Oriental Institute staff and graduate students in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations have been visiting our partner schools to describe and demonstrate the work of archaeologists, artists, and language experts. Those who have taken part or are preparing classroom presentations include John Barstad, Scott Branting, John and Debbie Darnell, Thomas Dousa, Stephanie Endy, Jill Ashley Fine, Nicole Hansen, Timothy Harrison, Joshua Holo, Jerry Lyon, Catherine Sarther-Lyon, Alex O'Brien, and Yumi Roth.

The classroom presentations portion of the Polk Bros. Foundation project will assume even greater importance next year, when the Museum is due to close for climate control and renovation. Until then, however, the positive impact of the entire program can be seen in the temporary exhibits gallery, where a sampling of student projects from the program is on view. Called "Mummies in the Classroom," this exhibit is a popular stop for all our Museum tours as well as for teachers from throughout the metropolitan area who have told us that the projects offer great ideas for their own classes.

Figure 2. Egyptologist Peter Piccione shows Chicago high school students how the senet board game reflected beliefs about about the heavens and earth as part of "Space Explorers," an Oriental Institute program on ancient Egyptian astronomy cosponsored by the University of Chicago's Office of Special Programs and Department of Astronomy. Photograph by Jean Grant.

Three additional collaborative school projects took place this year. District 181 of the Hinsdale Public Schools returned to repeat a program jointly developed by the Museum Education Office and the Artifact Center at the Spertus Museum of Judaica. More than two hundred youngsters experienced the process of being on a "dig" at the Artifact Center's reconstructed tell and then saw the real results of archaeological excavation during their Museum tour at the Institute. A collaboration with Notre Dame High School in Niles resulted in an in-depth Museum tour and research session related to the 9th-grade Catholic Schools' curriculum, which focuses on the history of the peoples of the Old Testament. William Pattison, consultant to the Polk Bros. Foundation project, also acted as advisor for this pilot program that may serve as a model for schools throughout the archdiocese.

A special science-based collaboration took place this past winter, when a group of Chicago high school students involved in a program called Space Explorers came to the Oriental Institute to examine the heavens through the eyes of the ancient Egyptians. Part of a multi-year math and science project cosponsored by the University of Chicago's Office of Special Programs and Department of Astronomy, these young people took part in six Oriental Institute sessions that included lectures, Museum tours, behind-the-scenes visits, and hands-on programming. Led by Janet Johnson, Professor of Egyptology, and Peter Piccione, Egyptologist, the program also included presentations by Laura D'Alessandro, Museum Conservator; Charles E. Jones, Research Archivist; Donald Whitcomb, Research Associate; and Jean Niblack and Carole Yoshida, Oriental Institute Museum Docents.

Such partnerships in programming greatly expand our resources and abilities to reach a wide audience. An important example is another collaboration that concentrated on teachers, this time with both regional and national partners. On Saturday, November 19, 1994, more than 250 elementary and high school teachers came to the Institute for a day-long conference cosponsored by the Oriental Institute Museum and the American Schools of Oriental Research, with additional assistance from the Public Education Committee of the Society for American Archaeology and the Chicago society of the Archaeological Institute of America. Entitled "Beyond Indiana Jones: Archaeology as a Focus for the Interdisciplinary Curriculum," the conference featured presentations on the teaching of archaeology by educators from schools, colleges, and museums across the state and throughout the nation. This very special program could not have taken place without the generous support of Oriental Institute Visiting Committee members Maurice D. and Lois M. Schwartz, who have a long-standing interest in educational programming for teachers and students.

Public Programming

Designed to attract and serve a broad and diverse audience, education programs for the general public showed striking increases in participation this year. Attendance rose in nearly all categories of programming, nearly doubling for adult education, youth activities, and services to the university community.

Figure 3. Richard Treptow tries his hand with mallet and chisel during "Ancient Arts/ Contempoary Artists," a new program of field trips to the studios of Chicago-area artists. Stonecarver Walter Arnold supervises Treptow's work. Photograph by Maybrit de Miranda.

Adult education programs attracted close to one thousand participants for a yearlong schedule of eight-session courses; one-day mini-courses; a series of classes offered in collaboration with the Art Institute; and a new program of Oriental Institute field trips. This year's eight-week courses included "The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Judeo-Christian Tradition" and "The Prophets of Ancient Israel," taught by Anthony Tomasino; "Deserts and Oases of Ancient Egypt," taught by Carol Meyer; "Ancient Egyptian Literature" and three sections of a eight-part series on the "History of Egypt," taught by Frank Yurco; "Introduction to Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs I and II," taught by Peter Piccione; "Religion of Ancient Israel," taught by Timothy Harrison; "Archaeology Underwater: Introduction to Ancient Shipwrecks," taught by Jerry Lyon; "The Ancient Empire of Assyria," taught by Gregory Munson; "Religions of the Ancient Near East," taught by Billie Jean Collins; and "Travelers, Rogues, and Scholars: Two Centuries of American Interest in Ancient Egypt," taught by John Larson.

A mini-course, "Great City on the China Sea: The Early Islamic Port of Ayla," was offered in collaboration with the University's Center for Middle Eastern Studies. This day-long seminar, complementing the special exhibit "Ayla: Art and Industry in the Early Islamic Port of Aqaba," featured presentations by Donald Whitcomb, Oriental Institute Research Associate and exhibit curator; Fred M. Donner, Associate Professor of Islamic History; and guest lecturers Irene Bierman, Associate Professor of Art History, University of California at Los Angeles; and Michael Bates, Curator of Islamic Coins, American Numismatic Society. Other mini-courses included "Dine Like an Egyptian: A Second Helping," a repeat of the popular cooking course taught by Oriental Institute docent and professional chef Mary Jo Khuri; and "Cultivating Antiquity: The Oriental Institute's Secret Garden," taught by Jean Grant, Oriental Institute Museum photographer and expert gardener, who took participants on a behind-the-scenes tour of our courtyard garden.

"Images of Eternity," a four-session course on ancient Egyptian art taught by Assistant Curator Emily Teeter, was presented in collaboration with the Art Institute of Chicago, as was "Beyond Egyptian Art," a day-long seminar for the ancient art connoisseur. "Beyond Egyptian Art" featured Emily Teeter along with William H. Peck, Curator of Ancient Arts at the Detroit Institute of Art. Both collaborative courses were offered in conjunction with the opening of the new Art Institute Galleries of Ancient Art.

"Ancient Arts/Contemporary Artists," a new program of Sunday afternoon field trips, featured visits to the studios of Chicago collectors or artists whose work is inspired by ancient techniques. The first field trip highlighted the work of Chicago stonecarver Walter Arnold; the second included a slide lecture on ancient Near Eastern textiles presented by Emily Teeter, followed by a visit to Textile Conservators, the studio of collector and Oriental Institute member Maury Bynum.

Figure 4. After seeing ancient reliefs in the Museum's Egyptian Gallery, children carve and paint their own versions during one of the free Sunday Family Programs supoorted by the Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust. Photograph by Jean Grant.

Informal adult education opportunities were also available throughout the year. A special series of free, drop-in events on Wednesday evenings began in September when Janet Helman presented "Reassembling Ancient Pottery" in conjunction with the statewide observance of Illinois Archaeology Awareness Week. "The Haute Cuisine of Mesopotamia," a gallery tour by Oriental Institute Museum Curator Karen Wilson, was followed by refreshments that invited visitors to sample Middle Eastern treats. "Love and Romance in Ancient Egypt," a Valentine's Day tour offered by Emily Teeter, also gave participants the opportunity to have a sentiment for a loved one inscribed in hieroglyphs by graduate student Tom Dousa. "Sketching in the Galleries," a Wednesday evening drop-in program for artists, continued this year; an exhibit of selected sketches produced by these artist-visitors will be on view in the Museum this fall. Drop-in programming during the summer focused on Fridays, when the docents, led by captain Debbie Aliber, presented free Friday morning gallery lectures as part of their continuing series of summer special interest tours. The long-standing tradition of free Sunday afternoon films was enlivened this year with "Artisan to Artifact," a film and video series highlighting the work of Middle Eastern artists who follow techniques and traditions that go back to the beginnings of recorded history.

Programming especially created for the university community drew more than one thousand visitors, including students, parents, alumni, and university staff. Museum docents offered special thematic gallery tours for three university events-Student Orientation in September, the annual Humanities Day in October, and the Reunion in June. Curator Karen Wilson was a featured speaker for the Common Core Program during June Reunion. The third annual Professional Secretaries' Day program was also led by Karen Wilson. All of the University's clerical support staff were invited to her gallery tour that introduced "The Scribes and Secretaries of Ancient Mesopotamia." Museum Archivist John Larson took center stage at our third annual Students' Open House. Cosponsored by the Suq , this program featured a showing of the 1930s horror classic "The Mummy," which Larson introduced with behind-the-scenes information on the film and its special effects.

Youth programs this year attracted children from throughout the city, thanks to the creative activities developed by Museum docents and guest presenters. "Pyramids and Mummies," the second Oriental Institute children's theater workshop led by docents Kitty Picken and Annette Teaney, culminated in a dramatic production on the stage in Breasted Hall. At "Ancient Impressions," a clay-tiles workshop led by ceramic artist Denise Milito, children ages 7-12 worked to create an ancient-style wall mosaic that is now on view in the Museum's temporary exhibits gallery. During "Ancient Animals," a parent-child workshop offered in collaboration with the Lincoln Park Zoo, docents Carole Yoshida and Patrick Regnery and members of the zoo staff used both sites to introduce families to the animals of the ancient Near East. Children's programming during the summer featured special guided tours planned and offered by the Thursday docents, led by their captain Kitty Picken. Following each tour, a related hands-on craft activity allowed all the children to create and take home their own version of an ancient artifact.

Children and their families are a major Museum audience that the Education Office has been able to serve with extensive programming due to a multi-year grant from the Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust. Every Sunday from October through May is Family Day at the Oriental Institute, with programs that range from hands-on activities and craft demonstrations to Museum-wide special events. "What a Relief!" (creating Egyptian-style carvings), "Nothing But Mud!" (making clay tablets), and "Meet the First Superhero" (a storytelling program about Gilgamesh) were among the many Sunday activities offered this year. "African Earth," a special program for African-American History Month, featured pottery-making demonstrations by Hardy Schlick from the Hyde Park Art Center and the opportunity for visitors to make their own Nubian-style pot. Other special family events included the third annual "Mummy's Night" on the Wednesday before Halloween and "Winter Break," a city-wide event cosponsored by many of Chicago's major cultural institutions.

Figure 5. King Tut comes alive in Marquette Park! Children and their families made ancient-style headdresses and "walked like Egyptians" when the Oriental Institute joined the Chicago Park District's "Parks Partners" summer program to offer free hands-on activites in the city's parks. Photograph by Carol Redmond.

Family Programs attracted nearly 1,600 children and their parents to the Museum this year. Such success is a credit to the talents, creativity, and dedication of Carol Redmond, who supervises this program in addition to her involvement with the Polk Bros. Foundation project. Able, imaginative, and enthusiastic interns assist Carol with Family Programs. We could not have offered such important educational services without the involvement of Bridget Baker and Amanda Geppert, who both graduated this June. Bridget had been an intern for three years and Amanda has been with us for her entire University of Chicago career! Museum volunteer Adrienne Runge also provided invaluable support this past year, as did part-time interns Meg Hudgins and Morgan Grefe. Our high-school intern, Raya Townsend, also graduated in June. She has been a dependable aide to Education Office staff for the past three years; we are sorry to see her go! Museum docent Carole Yoshida lent her time and talents to a special drop-in activity for family visitors. She developed "Ancient Animals: On Safari for Birds, Lions, Bulls," the most recent in a new series of Museum Treasure Hunts that have been used by more than 2,000 visitors.

The innovative Family Programs staff tried an important experiment last summer, joining the Shedd Aquarium, the Hyde Park Art Center, and other cultural institutions from around the city for the Chicago Park District's new program of summer family festivals in Chicago's parks. At the Oriental Institute booth, families were invited to create their own reproductions of royal headdresses from ancient Egypt, and the parks were filled with large and small imitators of King Tut! After reaching more than four hundred children and parents in outings to just two parks, the Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust generously extended our Family Programs Grant so that we could continue our "parks partners" program into next year.

The Elizabeth Morse Genius Trust has provided us with generous new support. Early in 1995 the trust awarded the Museum Education Office a planning grant to explore possibilities for outreach programming at other sites when the Museum closes for climate control and renovation. Rebecca A. Keller and Jerome D'Agostino, professional museum program consultants, are now with us to help develop a strategic plan for presenting effective and engaging off-site educational services.

From research to public information to programmatic presentations, two key people are involved in every aspect of museum education services. Kaylin Goldstein, Education Programs Assistant, is an island of calm in the midst of a busy office environment. Along with her responsibilities for school tour reservations and telephone information services for the general public, Kaylin is also the Museum Education Programs' public relations officer, media contact person, and graphics design expert, as well as an experienced program developer. Formerly a full-time staff member, this multi-talented woman is now enrolled in the graduate program in anthropology at the University of Chicago and is currently working half time for the Education Office.

Yumi Roth is the newest member of the Education Program staff. She holds a B.A. in anthropology and a B.F.A., both from Tufts University. With Kaylin Goldstein, she shares responsibilities for school tour reservations and general information services. In addition, she supervises implementation and financial bookkeeping for all reserved programs and lends her talents as artist and teacher to the development and presentation of educational programming. Her graphic design skills and computer know-how have also been a great asset to the office.

The growth and expansion of Museum Education Programming could not have occurred without the support and goodwill of every member of the Oriental Institute's faculty and staff. Nothing would have been possible without the vision, dedication, and enthusiasm of the Education Office staff. Special thanks go to the Museum docents for their interest, their ideas, and their ongoing support of new Education Office activities. To Janet Helman and Bud Haas a grateful thank you for your friendship and your never-failing encouragement.

Revised: July 30, 2007

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