Provost's Blog

The Provost’s Blog: Museum Education

Hofstra Provost Herman Berliner
Hofstra Provost Herman Berliner

I’m a strong believer that education that incorporates museum experiences and the arts in general is a more fully textured and in-depth learning experience.  Museums represent and translate the world’s values.

We are fortunate to have an outstanding museum right on the Hofstra campus.  This year more than 1200 students and their faculty are making curricular related connections during learning sessions at our Museum galleries.  As a result of these experiences, students have created original choreography, documentaries, dramatic presentations, poetry and prose, as well as research papers and lesson plans for teaching others.  Let me give you just a few examples:

Studying works in the collections facilitates discussions in clinical psychology graduate courses about “assumptions” and the ways in which the process of making an individual interpretation of a work of art is similar to developing interpretations of client narratives and histories for clinical treatment recommendations.  Studying the works of art, and hearing the varied responses to the same work from peers, has a significant impact upon student understanding of their own assumptions and biases. These assumptions can alter a recommended course of treatment for a patient, and/or the willingness to listen to recommendations from colleagues about treatment options from varied points of view and experience.

Students in their course work are challenged to use art works on campus to develop historical narratives, and to create performances that effectively bring those sculptures “to life.”  Examples of these impressive campus artworks include Plato and Socrates in Dialogue, Frederick Douglass Circle, and Benjamin Franklin.  The narratives become Democracy in Performance and connect history, human motivations and democratic ideals, as well as the development of a fully conceived thesis about a selected moment in history, through a costumed dramatic performance for one’s peers.

Our Museum’s reach also includes 500 third graders annually working with authentic objects through our Art Travelers through Time program as well as seniors and families through our Global Expressions program.

I also have the privilege of serving as president of my local school board.  Let me give some of the examples at the local school district of how museums are integrated into the education provided to our students at all grades.  You will find examples such as these throughout many schools across our country. And here I am focusing just on museums, though the school district provides a comprehensive arts education to all students.

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