This winter Block Museum staff joined students at Evanston’s Roycemore School who were taking a deep dive into understanding the behind-the-scenes of museum work.
High school students at the co-educational college preparatory school step out of the classroom for a special three-week January Short Term. During that time, regular classes are suspended while both students and faculty participate in intensive projects designed to provide students an opportunity to delve into a subject of particular personal interest. This is a time for exploring career interests, learning a new skill or strengthening an old one, participating in a service project, or trying out an area of interest for which there has never been time.
Educators Dan Dudek and Shannon Henry offered students the option to join them for a short-term session titled “Museum Mania!” The program offered students the opportunity to get behind-the-scenes tours throughout the city and learn about museum operations and careers. At the end of the session, students had the opportunity to design their own exhibit on a topic of their interest.
Eight Roycemore students met with Block Museum curatorial staff including Corinne Granof, the Block’s Academic Curator, and Dan Silverstein, Associate Director of Collections and Exhibition Management, to gain a better understanding of professional roles and the multifaceted roles museums play for a community. “During our virtual museum visit with the students from Roycemore, we talked about how display strategies reinforce ideas in art exhibitions, and from the students’ insightful questions and observations, they were paying close attention to how information is presented in museums,” says Granof.
After the session, the student participants reflected on their takeaways from the discussion and the comparison of different museum practices: “It was interesting to see different interpretations of similar material through different museum layouts and artifacts portrayed, and think about why each museum made those choices. I thought about how museums choose to let the art speak for itself or change the environment, adding emotion.” said Ronan.
Many of the students voiced newfound appreciation and perspective on museum work. “It was fascinating to learn how much planning and details go into curating an exhibit. I learned about how each detail in an exhibit helps tell the story or portray the point of view through different mediums. It helped me look at the museums we visited during our January Short Term in a different light,” said Alex.