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Home > Research > Publications > Annual Reports > 1995-96 Annual Report

The Museum Education Office


Carole Krucoff

As the Oriental Institute Museum's climate control and renovation project moved from planning stage to reality, the Museum Education Office turned its attention to new approaches and new locations for programming. Two ongoing grants continued to support educational services for families and the city's public schools, with many of these activities taking place at schools, parks, and neighborhood centers throughout the community. Adult education services expanded to the North Shore, new partners joined us for collaborative programs, and a generous planning grant gave us the support to develop a full schedule of activities for all audiences during the time of renovation and beyond.

School and Teacher Services

The Museum Education Office has just completed a comprehensive three-and-one-half-year program 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 Schools. Supported by a major grant from the Polk Bros. Foundation, this project has provided seminars on the ancient Near East to teachers from twenty public schools throughout the city. It has also involved more than 5,000 sixth and seventh grade students in museum and classroom programming that has enriched and expanded their understanding of the ancient world.

The project has produced a rich array of curriculum materials based on the Institute's artifact and archival collections from ancient Mesopotamia, Nubia, and Egypt. Archaeology Treasure chests filled with reproduction artifacts now allow teachers to bring material culture from the ancient Near East directly into the classroom. An Ancient Civilizations Poster Set provides full-color photographs of museum artifacts for classroom display. Teachers Guidebooks offer reference materials and suggestions for hands-on projects. All these resources will be especially useful during the museum's two-year closure for renovation.

Equally valuable is the classroom visitor program that is bringing graduate student archaeologists, historians, and linguists into the public schools to show children how the Oriental Institute learns about the ancient past. Tracy Alsberg, John Barstad, Scott Branting, Thomas Dousa, Jill Ashley Fine, Josh Holo, Nicole Hansen, and Alex O'Brien have all presented programs or have presentations in the planning stage. In addition, artists and epigraphers have been visiting schools to demonstrate the ancient processes that they use in their own work and to involve students in hands-on classroom activities. These visitors include Deborah and John Darnell, epigraphers with the Epigraphic Survey in Luxor, Egypt; Robert Godanski, artist and educator who demonstrates ancient Nubian leatherworking techniques; Yumi Roth, a metalsmith who shows students how to create ancient-style jewelry; Hardy Schlick, a potter who demonstrates ancient techniques for hand-building pottery; and Jacquie Vaughn, a textile artist and educator who demonstrates ancient methods of spinning and weaving.

Carol Redmond, Education Outreach Coordinator, has been the Education Office's driving force behind the Oriental Institute/Chicago Public Schools project, assisted by the guidance, support, and expertise of two consultants from the University's Department of Education--William Pattison, Associate Professor Emeritus, and Sara Spurlark, Associate Director of the Center for School Improvement. Docent Coordinators Catherine Dueñas and Terry Friedman have also offered invaluable inspiration and support, as they do for every aspect of the museum's educational services.

The Oriental Institute/Chicago Public Schools project has been recognized by the American Association of Museums (AAM) as a national model for museum/schools collaboration. The Museum Education Office was invited to offer a presentation on the collaboration to museum professionals from across the country at the 1996 AAM Annual Meeting, which took place in Minneapolis in May. In addition, an article on the project has been published in the American Association of Museums Sourcebook, a compendium of exemplary programs at the nation's museums.

Other special programs for students and teachers took place this past year. For the third year in a row, more than 300 children from District 181 of the Hinsdale Public Schools came to the Oriental Institute for a program on archaeology that was jointly developed by the Museum Education Office and the Artifact Center of the Spertus Museum of Judaica. Additionally, the Oriental Institute offered special gallery activities for the Alexandria Project, an in-depth program on the ancient world that is being offered by the Classics Department to 45 children at Fiske School in Woodlawn. Services for teachers included a workshop on ancient Mesopotamia offered to the faculty at Pershing Elementary School, which was awarded a grant to bring its teachers to the museum for a lecture, gallery tour, and discussion session with Curator Karen Wilson. The Education Office also collaborated with the Textile Arts Center of Chicago to offer a teachers' workshop on ancient processes of clothmaking. When the National Council for the Social Studies held its annual meeting in Chicago, Docent Kitty Picken arranged for a group of educators from across the nation to visit the Oriental Institute for a workshop and gallery tour.

Public Programs

Familiar favorites and programs with new formats and locations were presented to the general public this past year, providing more than 4,000 adult, youth, and family participants with educational services.

Adult education activities drew more than 700 registrants to programs that took place both at the Oriental Institute and at locations throughout the metropolitan area. Courses offered at the Institute included: "The Israelite Exodus from Egypt in History and Tradition," by Anthony Tomasino; "Great Kings of Ancient Mesopotamia," by Jason Ur; "The Hyksos" and four sections of a course on the "History of Ancient Egypt," by Frank Yurco; "Lifelines of the City: Archaeology of the Ancient Near Eastern Landscape," by Tony J. Wilkinson; "The First Empires," by Clemens Reichel; and "The Hittites and Their Neighbors in Ancient Anatolia," by Hripsime Haroutunian. Correspondence courses included "Hieroglyphs by Mail," by Emily Teeter, with Thomas Dousa and Alexandra O'Brien as teaching assistants; and "Cuneiform by Mail," by Daniel Nevez.

A new approach for adult education began this year with the presentation of courses off-site. At the suggestion of Oriental Institute Docent Leila Foster, the Education Office and Trinity United Methodist Church in Wilmette joined forces to offer two very well-received courses at the church's North Shore location. These courses were: "An Introduction to the Dead Sea Scrolls," by Anthony Tomasino; and "Archaeology and the Land of Bible," by Timothy Harrison.

Single-session adult education programs ranged from visits to the studios of local artists to hands-on workshops in ancient art processes. The Ancient Arts/Contemporary Artists Field Trip series, begun in early 1995, continued this year with visits to the Chicago studios of metalsmith William Frederick, ceramist Kelly Kessler, and painter James Mesplé. Oriental Institute staff and volunteers who led these field trips included Karen Wilson, Curator; Yumi Roth, Museum Educator; and Peggy Grant and Janet Helman, Iranian Pottery Project researchers.

Thanks to the Hyde Park Art Center (HPAC), all those who enjoy "learning by doing" can now take part in workshops that replicate the art processes of ancient times. Cosponsored by the Education Office the workshops this year were: "Threads Through Time," a session on spinning and weaving taught by Jacquie Vaughn of the Textile Arts Center; and "Shaping the Past," a hands-on pottery making session taught by Emily Teeter, Assistant Curator, and Noah Loesberg of the HPAC.

Once again delightful aromas and delicious taste treats filled the Home Economics Laboratory of the University's Laboratory Schools, as professional chef and Oriental Institute Docent Mary Jo Khuri presented "The Cuisine and Cookery of Morocco." This is the second in her series of cooking classes that provide hands-on opportunities to prepare and then enjoy a traditional Middle Eastern meal.

A variety of informal adult education programs were offered this past year. The Friday morning Docents, led by Captain Deborah Aliber, presented "Lunchtime in Another Time," a repeat of their well-received series of gallery talks on Fridays during the summer.

During the school year, lectures and gallery presentations drew many visitors. Emily Teeter presented "The Preservation of Ancient Egyptian Tombs" in conjunction with the statewide observance of Illinois Archaeology Awareness Week in September. Professor Walter Farber spoke on "Superstitions of the Ancient Near East" in October. Raymond Tindel, Museum Registrar, offered a talk on "Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh," during the holiday season; and in February, Professor Martha Roth presented "What's Love Got To Do With It?," a Valentine's Day lecture that highlighted marriage, reproduction, and romantic love in the ancient world. The month of February also saw the Oriental Institute's first Archaeology Film Festival, a series of special interest films and videos shown on Sunday afternoons, followed by coffee hours and discussion sessions led by John Larson, Museum Archivist, and graduate students Jill Ashley Fine, Clemens Reichel, and Anne Yanaway.

Another informal program resulted in an additional Museum Education "first." "Sketching in the Galleries," a drop-in opportunity offered to local artists beginning in 1994, led to "Through the Eyes of the Artist," an exhibit of selected sketches created in the Museum's galleries over the past two years. The work of artists Sheila H. Hori, David R. Howell, Peter Rosenbloom, and Charles Stevenson interpreted artifacts that ranged from massive reliefs to miniature vessels.

Programs designed especially for the University community were successfully offered throughout the year. Student Orientation in September attracted more than 200 students and their parents. Humanities Day in October drew well over 350 people for thematic gallery tours led by Docents Dorothy Blindt, John Gay, Patrick Regnery, Masako Matsumoto, Georgie Maynard, Bernard Shelley, and Carole Yoshida. Emily Teeter was a featured speaker for the Uncommon Core program during June reunion, when close to 150 alumni came to see her slide presentation, "From Obelisks to Egypto-Trash: The Public's Ongoing Love Affair with Ancient Egypt."

Youth services and parent-child workshops presented with new collaborators attracted visitors from across the city. Summer programming for children featured special guided tours developed by the Thursday Morning Docents, led by their Captain, Kitty Picken. Each of these free tours was followed by a related craft activity. "Tut's Tunes," a hands-on activity led by Douglas Irvine, an educator from the Spertus Museum, introduced children to the musical instruments of the ancient world and then turned them into an ancient style orchestra fit for a pharaoh! A royal sport was featured during "Pharaoh Goes Fishing," a joint parent-child program with the Shedd Aquarium. "Be an Ancient Egyptian Metalsmith," a jewelry-making workshop for parents and children led by Yumi Roth, was held in partnership with Chicago's Lill Street Studios.

Children and their families are a major museum audience that the Education Office has been able to serve with extensive programming since 1993, due to the support of a major grant from the Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust. While the galleries were still open, every Sunday was Family Day at the Oriental Institute, with programs that involved children and their parents in hands-on crafts and interactive activities. Two special family events--the fourth annual "Mummy's Night" just before Halloween, and "Awesome Ancient African Arts!" in February attracted close to 800 visitors. Programs like these inspired the Chicago volume of the national Kids Explore series to give the Oriental Institute four (out of five) balloons on the "fun scale," and to call the Oriental Institute Museum a great place for families!

The success of family programming is due to the creativity and dedication of Carol Redmond, who has supervised these services along with her work on the Oriental Institute/Chicago Public Schools collaboration. Interns Amanda Geppert, Shawn Reddy, and Anne Yanaway provided able assistance as did volunteers Jo Lucas, Kathleen Mineck, and Adrienne Runge. Everyone in the Education Office lent their support during the summer of 1995, when the Chicago Park District invited us to join their Parks Partners Mini-Festivals program for the second year in a row. By offering hands-on activities at these festivals in parks throughout the city, we were able to introduce thousands of children and their families to the fascinating world of the ancient Near East.

None of the Education Office's services could have taken place without the support of every member of the Oriental Institute's faculty and staff, and the ongoing interest and assistance of all the museum's docents. My grateful thanks go to the Education Office staff, whose long working hours, selfless service, great good nature, and extraordinary creativity are what make everything happen! Two people deserve special mention here. Kaylin Goldstein, Museum Programs Associate, supervises school program reservations and telephone information services for the general public. She is also our public relations officer, graphics design expert, and editor, and none of us could function without her intelligence, creativity, and thoughtfulness. Yumi Roth, Museum Programs Assistant, shared school reservation and general information services, supervised the adult education program, and took the Education Office into cyberspace by creating a World-Wide Web page for Museum Education. Yumi also lent the Education Office her talents as artist and teacher, developing and presenting classes and workshops on metalsmithing for children and adults. In May, Yumi became an instructor for the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and we will all miss her!

Looking Back ... and Ahead

Many of this year's new approaches are due to the support of the Elizabeth Morse Genuis Charitable Trust. In 1995 this foundation presented the Education Office with a generous grant to develop a strategic plan for the renovation period. Jerome D'Agostino and Rebecca Keller, professional museum program consultants, assisted us in gathering information on outreach activities at museums throughout the city and across the nation, and interviewed our current audiences--schools, churches, senior centers, and families--to see how we could best serve them during closure. Grant funding allowed us to pilot program ideas, ensuring they would work before offering them to the general public. As a result, we look forward to offering a full and varied schedule of on-site and outreach programs during the entire renovation period as we continue our efforts to offer Oriental Institute members, the University community, and the general public the very best in museum education services.

Revised: February 7, 2007

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