Engage, Enrich, Enjoy!

By Trevor Stevenson, Hickory Ridge High School (Harrisburg, North Carolina)

“We have so many different types of programs, so they benefit people of all different ages, at all different levels,” said Kerry Kuhlkin-Hornsby, the Director of Education and Engagement at Columbia Museum of Art.

Since 1998, The Columbia Museum of Art has been able to participate in outreach programs and educational opportunities to serve many people throughout the state of South Carolina. Within their own walls, they’ve been able to create designated space for education areas. It’s hard to tell which educational area is most beneficial.

Is it children’s play room with chalkboards plastered on the walls and toys scattered across the floor?

Or the children’s theatre where students learn more about art pieces and techniques?

Maybe it’s the children’s art studio where drawings and paintings and block sculptures and mosaics and paper mache creations decorate the floors, the windows, the walls and the door.

The museum books schools from across the state to tour their exhibits and their studios to meet South Carolina’s academic standards. Kuhlkin-Hornsby said schools visit the exhibits  and discuss “how they were created over five-hundred years ago. How did they get paint? So you’re talking about the process of making paint. That’s science.”

In an effort to engage visitors of all ages, the museum offers workshops, summer camps and events for children and adults.

“This week we have a design camp for three to 12 year olds, a little builders camp for four to seven year olds. We also have an all day woodworking camp for teens and a ceramics camp for eight to twelve year olds,” said Kayleigh Vaughn, the Education Director.

Kuhlkin-Hornsby said some people also visit the museum to listen to great jazz music, maybe they’ve never been before, but they walk in and see that beautiful glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly in the lobby and the jazz performance takes place under it, which really engages them and makes them want to come back.

Staff at the museum believe that these education programs are necessary and are beneficial to the children’s behavior.

So instead of tearing paper, breaking crayons and sprinting around the room, they learn that those supplies are for them “to create beautiful creations which they get take home.” They become more respectful with the materials, the instructors and each other.

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