Shelton association uses mobile museum to fight inequalities in arts education

SHELTON – A local nonprofit is raising awareness of the importance of the arts, while trying to eliminate inequalities in arts education, with a mobile museum that will showcase art to Shelton students.

cARTie, Connecticut’s only non-profit mobile art museum, is set to be piloted this fall with three elementary schools in the valley, including Shelton’s Booth Hill School. A total of 13 schools across the state will receive a tour of the 20-foot bus.

“CARTie was founded to bridge inequalities in access to education and the arts across the state by leveraging the benefits of learning in museums and making them mobile and able to travel directly to schools and students, ”said Clare Murray of Shelton, co-founder and executive director.

Murray, who co-founded the operation with his mother, Elizabeth Murray, also a Shelton resident, said the purpose of the mobile art museum was to instill a love of art among the state’s youth.

The pilot programming, Murray says, involves inviting classes of Kindergarten to Grade 2 students aboard his refurbished 20-foot bus transformed into a mobile museum for an interactive and participatory museum gallery experience. During this first year, cARTie joins forces with primary schools and will reach up to 600 pupils in the valley.

This pilot program is made possible by recent grants to cARTie from the Derby-Shelton Rotary Club and the Valley Community Foundation, in partnership with the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.

“The Valley Community Foundation is pleased to provide this financial support to cARTie to bring the arts to life for young children in the valley,” said Sharon Closius, president and CEO of the foundation.

“Helping nurture a sense of curiosity and wonder from an early age helps set the stage for a lifelong appreciation of artistic expression and engagement,” she added.

According to Murray, cARTie is a “redesigned museum” that brings the museum excursion to schools. She said it deconstructs the traditional, Eurocentric white model of what an art museum is by ensuring that all young people in Connecticut see themselves represented in the exhibits, the artists featured and the experiences they have at the time. of their visit.

The activities of the museum are twofold: to provide inclusive internship and exhibition opportunities to a diverse population of high school arts students, and to provide museum-essential learning opportunities that enrich and deepen preschool education, while respecting basic standards, to second-class and younger students who otherwise might not have access to solid artistic programming.

The idea originated in 2018, when Murray and his mother were volunteering as educators at the Children’s Museum and Theater of Maine. The two men both have training in early childhood education and she said she has dedicated her career to museums and museum education.

Murray said his mother worked at private kindergartens in Fairfield County and volunteered at public schools in Bridgeport. So she has witnessed inequalities in access to education and the arts, Murray said.

“The fact that we could bring our skills together and address the glaring inequalities in access to education and the arts in our home state of Connecticut motivated us to start talking with friends and colleagues about reinvention. museum education and field trips to museums for young children, ”Murray mentioned.

“There is a great deal of research documenting why museum learning is important for developing critical and creative thinking skills so necessary in the 21st century. I even did some of this research myself, ”added Murray. “What has been missing, however, is action and change.”

Murray said the couple have spent the past three years forming a team to complete CARTie. The team includes a Board of Directors, a community of volunteer educators, a teacher advisory board, and a student advisory board, among other advisors.

“At the same time, we have studied state standards and best practices in teaching critical thinking through art, developed a curriculum and built a model that can and will be sustainable over time. as we continue to diversify our funding sources, ”Murray said. .

cARTie provides exhibition and internship opportunities for high school students across Connecticut, and student art covers the walls of the mobile museum bus.

Murray said there are three interactive learning opportunities inside the mobile museum bus each school year – plus a pre-and post-tour curriculum that teachers can use with their students. cARTie also has six volunteer educators in training who will support the tours, as well as Murray and his mother.

“We are still awaiting the signing of final contracts with our pilot schools this 2021-2022 school year, but we estimate to reach 13 elementary schools this year alone – and grow to over 50 by 2023-24,” Murray said.

To learn more about cARTie, visit Follow cARTie on Facebook and Instagram @CTcARTie.

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