« All the (Craft) World's a Stage | Eye Level Home | New Podcast: The Architectural History of the Renwick Gallery »

In Conversation with American Art
August 18, 2009

Teacher Institute

Teacher Clarice Leonard records a podcast about Duane Hanson's Woman Eating.

You're a middle school teacher who knows her stuff. But these days your students know theirs as well: texting, tweeting, and networking on Facebook; they are savy social netizens. So how do you reach your students through media that already grab their attention? That was the goal of the Clarice Smith National Teacher Institute held at American Art last week. Educators from across the country came to the museum for a week-long session to learn how to integrate art across the curriculum. I had the pleasure of talking to fifteen of them about podcasting.

Podcasting is not just about the technology, so I introduced different approaches to creating audio content as well. We discussed scripted material, which should sound informal, like a blog post written for the ear. We listened to other examples, including interviews with experts such as artists or curators—always a favorite with audiences; 'vox pops' that incorporate visitors’ opinions, like SFMOMA’s Artcasts; our own student podcasts; and conversations about art, like those recorded by two groundbreaking art historians at We also considered the context in which listeners would experience the audio. Are they moving through the museum, sitting in the classroom, or riding on a bus? Are they looking at an original artwork or a digital image? Does the image appear on a large screen monitor or an iPod?

Whatever podcasting approach they chose, I recommended that teachers start with questions that come immediately to their—and their students’—minds when they encounter the art. In developing our audio tours of the American Art Museum’s Luce Center (which we'll be launching this fall in the museum, online, and on cell phones), we polled visitors on what pricks their curiosity—and where—in the galleries. We think that by satisfying our visitors' curiosity, we'll also stimulate their interest to learn more.

Online, our reference service, Joan of Art, answers all sorts of questions about American Art sent through the Web site. You can also follow Joan of Art on Twitter. Give her a shout, and wherever we can, we’ll use your questions to improve our information and interpretation about the museum's collections.

Posted by Nancy on August 18, 2009 in American Art Here, Museums & Technology


this is an amazing blog, but i would like to see more of what the smithsonia is usually known for: great historical exhibits. this post is a little dry.


The comments to this entry are closed.

Related Posts with Thumbnails