In this edition of HFJ @ Home, Andrea Murray shares what it's been like to adapt Museum class visits to at-home learning.

When our staff was asked to head home in mid-March to help flatten that COVID-19 curve, we were only able to pack up a few of our favorite teaching objects from the education department.

After a couple of weeks of brainstorming and experimentation, the Museum’s school programs team (Carol Hockett, Elizabeth Saggese, and myself) have figured out how to stay connected with our favorite people—kids!

Now we are making the best of our limited tool kit, figuring out how to combine the objects in hand with images from our collection to create live, interactive conversations on topics such as mythical animals, masks from around the world, and ancient Egypt.

We began having amazing Zoom experiences with the intrepid families of Northern Light Learning Center, a cooperative of homeschooling families in Ithaca, and we are looking forward to virtually seeing more school groups and families in the weeks to come. 

A painted wood face mask from Japan and a child's pencil drawing of the mask

On our very first try sharing images and stories of masks, one enraptured seven-year-old girl asked Carol to stop and hold the Japanese noh drama mask still so she could draw it! We knew then that we could include some drawing and creating to our virtual visits. Learning is always a two-way street, and we are continuing to learn and innovate every day to try to best keep connecting with our community. 

As we continue to stay home to protect the most vulnerable, we want to reach out to anyone who wants to spend a few moments with art. The preamble to the World Health Organization’s 1946 constitution speaks of health as defined by a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being rather than merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Bring on the arts!