Today’s Ever-Changing World: Reimagining the School-Museum Partnership

Hilary Katz, Head of Teaching & Learning, and Alexandra Laroche, Manager of School Partnerships, discuss The Phillips Collection’s dynamic school-museum partnerships. Read their full article for DC Project Zero.

In the post-pandemic world, The Phillips Collection has been revisioning what school-museum partnerships can look like. We are looking for ways to sustain the success and accessibility of virtual programs that can reach students and teachers across the country, as well as returning to the engagement of in-person learning.

Kindergarten students from Noyes Elementary School create torn-paper collage portraits during a Phillips field trip focusing on “Making Friends.”

Our virtual professional development workshops aim to provide concrete arts integration ideas for teachers to incorporate into their existing curricula. Teachers who participated in our most recent hybrid Summer Teacher Institute: The Meaning We Make reflected:

  • •   “This has shown me that art is accessible to all students, no matter age or ability.”
  • •   “I was able to take away tons of techniques and strategies that I can apply immediately to my teaching practice!”

We will continue to organize both virtual and in-person teacher workshops open to all educators.

Teachers participate in a hands-on artmaking workshop during the 2022 Summer Teacher Institute.

Building Long-Term Relationships

We’re eager to see students and teachers back in the galleries as well as in their classrooms. Beyond taking a single-visit field trip to the museum, we strive to create opportunities for long-term and sustainable relationships with teachers who participate in our courses and programs. Before the pandemic, our teacher programs and school partnerships functioned relatively separately. Now, teachers who participate in one of our professional development workshops are prioritized for becoming a school partner, resulting in more intentional and impactful collaborations.

Washington School for Girls students create prints in connection to Lou Stovall: The Museum Workshop. Their prints are currently featured in a student exhibition, Art + Music: More than a Feeling, at the Phillips, on view through early 2023.

Upcoming School Partnerships

For the 2022-23 school year, we have plans to partner with approximately 15 schools across DC, Maryland, and Virginia, in varying capacities, providing Art Kits and Art Cards (see below), facilitating museum visits, leading arts-integrated lessons in the classroom, offering teacher professional development, showcasing exhibitions of student artwork at the Phillips and THEARC, and more. Ultimately, we aim to create customizable, collaborative partnerships to expand students’ critical thinking about relevant topics, encourage students and teachers to consider new perspectives, and enhance traditional classroom learning.

Langley Elementary School teacher Brittany Root poses in front of her students’ lightbox artworks during our spring 2022 student exhibition. As part of their partnership this school year, Langley Elementary students will again be featured in our spring 2023 student exhibition.

Examples of what’s happening this school year:

  • •   In-person professional development workshop for a DCPS elementary school on integrating the arts into specific English-Language Arts units.
  • •   An exhibition at the Phillips will feature the work of over 300 students from three DMV-area schools, connecting curriculum goals to our special exhibitions.
  • •   Eight grade levels from a single school will visit the museum and participate in personalized, hands-on artmaking activities related to what they are learning in class.
  • •   Representatives from the Phillips are working with teachers from 4 grade levels at Inspired Teaching Demonstration School to design field trips, classroom visits by Phillips Educators, and artmaking activities that align to their upcoming units.
  • •   Multiple teacher workshops for DMV-area teachers, for specific schools, and as collaborations with other educator organizations.
  • •   Distribution of Phillips “Art Cards.” In our search to create engaging materials during the pandemic, we created these card decks to bring art into any lesson. They consist of 54 reproductions from works in our collection and are transferable to several games, allowing everyone’s ideas and opinions to create conversations surrounding artworks and different themes. A teacher who used the Art Cards commented that their students “have seen a more diverse selection of art than I am able to show in class.”

The Phillips Art Cards in Action

If you can’t make it to a workshop or a field trip, we have digital resources for educators to engage with the Phillips: