The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) has been awarded a 2002 National Leadership Grant for Museums Online in the amount of $500,000 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), in recognition of the Museum’s innovation in developing educational technologies. SFMOMA is the only museum on the West Coast to receive an IMLS Museums Online grant this year as well as the institution awarded the largest dollar amount. “SFMOMA is proud to be recognized for its leadership role in developing interactive learning tools to make our collection more accessible to our diverse audiences,” said SFMOMA Director Neal Benezra. “We are honored that the IMLS has rewarded our history of commitment to new technologies and their potential for expanding access to and understanding of art. The timing couldn’t be better, as it coincides with the opening of our new, state-of-the-art Koret Visitor Education Center, which incorporates many of our online outreach initiatives.”
As Dr. Robert S. Martin, director of the IMLS remarked, “The American public has much to gain from the use of technology by museums. It enables greater access to unique cultural, scientific and artistic collections; to vast information and research resources; and to innovative educational opportunities for students of all ages.”
The IMLS grant will be used to support a new initiative called Bridging the Gap: From Real Art to Virtual Learning, an innovative series of online and interactive learning programs designed to serve as a link between visitors’ direct experience with SFMOMA’s collection and the Museum’s growing catalogue of multimedia learning resources. Bridging the Gap will build on SFMOMA’s core interactive learning program, Making Sense of Modern Art, relaunched in 2000, and on the SFMOMA Education Department’s eight years of experience with educational multimedia and curriculum development. The funded programs will focus on three audiences—adult museum visitors, students and teachers of grades nine through 12—served in the contexts of the Museum’s galleries, in the Koret Visitor Education Center and the Web site.
As SFMOMA and other museums continue to publish new materials in digital form, the question increasingly becomes not what information or how much of it is available online, but how museums can more effectively deliver that information to their target audiences. Through the Bridging the Gap initiative, SFMOMA will create responsive yet structured programs to help users chart their own paths to access what they need. The following is a list of the initiative highlights:
• Structure existing educational multimedia content on the Museum’s Web site to guide visitors more effectively to resources most relevant to their interests in individual artists and artworks. Adapt and edit Making Sense of Modern Art to suit the needs of users interacting with it in its three distinct sites and contexts: in the galleries, in the Koret Visitor Education Center and on the Web.
• Develop a new generation of hybrid docent tours, permanent collection touring publications, education center programs and Web features that draw on SFMOMA multimedia education resources and link them to encounters with art in the gallery.
• Work with the Museum’s Teacher Advisory Group of classroom teachers to author a multidisciplinary, standards-based curriculum that introduces students to key issues in modern art and prepares them for visits to the Museum. Publish the new curriculum on the Museum’s Web site and on DVD, with a companion hard copy edition and a downloadable PDF (portable document format) edition.
• Redesign e.school, the teacher section of the Museum Web site, to encourage dialogue and idea sharing among teachers working with the Museum. Recruit and train mentor teachers who will conduct statewide training sessions for 600 high school teachers throughout California, actively introducing them to the Museum’s online and digitally published educational resources.
Since 1995 SFMOMA has been a leader in the development of interactive multimedia learning resources in the arts, for which it has received numerous national awards. In May of 2002, SFMOMA’s interactive education programs for the exhibition Points of Departure: Connecting with Contemporary Art received a Gold MUSE award from the American Association of Museums Media and Technology Committee, whose jurors cited it as “a landmark in exhibition and in media application.” IMLS is a federal grant making agency that promotes leadership, innovation and a lifetime of learning by supporting the nation’s museums and libraries. Created by the Museum and Library Services Act of 1996, IMLS administers the Library Services and Technology Act and the Museum Services Act.
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