Through the funding provided by Healthcare Foundation of La Porte, Michigan City Community Enrichment Corporation, and Horizon Bank, Lubeznik Center for the Arts (LCA) is proud to offer the School Learning Tour Program to fuel children’s curiosity, enjoyment, and comprehension of art. The school learning tours are open to many different educational groups in the area.
“In a traditional year, we welcome close to 2000 students into our galleries and classrooms on field trips with their school districts from Lake County all the way to Southwestern Michigan as well as other educational organizations and homeschool cooperatives,” said Education Director Hannah Hammond-Hagman. “It’s a really robust program, and it’s really important because we’re positioned to be a really accessible cultural institution for our regional schools. You can, but you don’t have to incur the expense of travelling to Chicago to the School of the Art Institute. I hope they do go, but we want to build a really accessible program for our school partners, so that their students can experience a field trip here.”
The LCA can accommodate around 75 children at once, which amounts to a full grade for most schools. The children spend at least 90 minutes at LCA, but Hammond-Hagman encourages them to spend two hours at the facility when possible.
LCA puts up at least four new exhibits a year. After choosing an exhibit, discussing the themes and topics, and putting up the exhibits in collaboration with the executive director and director of exhibitions, Hammond-Hagman studies the art and artists. She then trains LCA’s team of docents on each exhibit so they can in turn explain it to the children. The children are taken through the exhibits and galleries and partake in an interpretive art project based on the art they saw and discussed earlier that day
“We want it to be an inspiring and welcoming experience. We want to hear what they think about the work, we want to hear their opinions, we want to know what they see, and how it makes them feel,” Hammond-Hagman said. “While we will lead conversations regarding the author’s intent or the stories the artwork is telling, we definitely let them know there are no wrong or right answers, and they are not expected to be silent. We want to hear their voices, and we want them to talk to each other about what they’re seeing. It is a very interactive experience. The most important thing is that they get to express themselves and feel like they have things to say about it.”
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, LCA decided that while they could not let students visit their building for tours, they could host the event online. LCA currently offers virtual learning tours where the staff can bring the art to the children through recording videos of the staff walking through the exhibits and talking kids through what they are seeing. Children are also supplied with an accompanying curriculum packet to guide them through the tour. The virtual learning tours began in mid-October and the next exhibit that will be available through recording is called “Fake Real.”
“We’re going to continue to do the virtual learning tours with the curriculum packets until it’s safe to have the building full of 75 laughing, talking kids again,” Hammond-Hagman said. “I’m grateful for the team we have and how we were able to pivot so quickly. I’m grateful for our deep partnerships with regional school systems who are using this program and still see us as a valuable resource, and the kids who still see and talk about art even when they can’t visit here. When they do visit, we have them fill out an exit survey and 85% of the students say they want to visit another cultural institution. We take pride that we can be a small, threshold organization for kids to go out and build cultural citizenship.”
To learn more about school learning tours and virtual learning tours, visit http://www.lubeznikcenter.org/.