UMMA Welcomes 4 New “Curious and Adventurous” Gallery Educators Looking to Transform K-12 Learning at the Museum

UMMA Welcomes 4 New “Curious and Adventurous” Gallery Educators Looking to Transform K-12 Learning at the Museum

June 1, 2022: Holmes Elementary School visit, photo by Marc-Grégor Campredon

The U-M Museum of Art has welcomed in a cohort of 4 new gallery educators, who are joining the team to help the Museum continue to strengthen its outreach efforts into the local community. The new educators will visit third grade classes in Ypsilanti Community Schools for on-site lessons in partnership with teachers, and then bring those students through UMMA’s galleries later in the winter and spring. 

In collaboration with 826michigan, a writing and tutoring organization, the third graders will write a guide about how to survive if they lived in a particular artwork. "This program advances UMMA's commitment to redevelop our K-12 gallery teaching program in a really specific way, focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion, and the needs of Ypsilanti third graders, their parents, and their teachers" said Grace VanderVliet, Curator for Museum teaching and Learning.

Museums across the country and world are also exploring new approaches to gallery education that prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion, and UMMA hopes to share learnings widely. To that end, Dr. Victoria Shaw from the UM School of Education is working closely with the program this year to document and analyze the gallery education program. In addition, faculty and staff at School of Education, as well as K12 teachers from Ann Arbor, Detroit, and other area schools, are partnering to participate in the development of innovative approaches to teaching and learning with visual art in and out of the museum.

VanderVliet notes the immense amount of work putting together a successful tour takes–including many hours of independent learning, where the gallery educators need to study the themes and context around many of the works currently on view at UMMA. That’s a big part of the job for this new group of educators, who VanderVliet described as “curious and adventurous.”

Adriana Alcala, one of the new gallery educators, said she was excited to join “part of the national museum conversation about education, community outreach, and diversity,” and noted that her personal values align well with the Museum’s. 

The new gallery educators are:

  • Adriana Alcala, a multimedia artist and a recent graduate from the Penny W. Stamps School Of Art & Design
  • Lucy Cahill, a freelance illustrator with extensive experience working with visual art in marginalized communities
  • Camille Jones, a recent graduate from the University of Michigan, having received her Master’s in Violin Performance
  • Njoki Kamuyu, a retired special education teacher whose work with students from preschool to college in both Kenya and Willow Run and Ypsilanti, as well as serving as a field instructor at UM School of Education

“I'm so encouraged by and grateful for this group of committed educators,” said VanderVliet. “They bring multiple talents and interests, which complement each other and enrich the experience for the kids.” 

She’s excited to see how the program will take shape. “I dreamed of this five years ago, and it's happening! It encourages me to consider what else might be possible and then inch toward it, believing that it will be a reality some day,” she said. “Some days I think about my job–teaching a class where we discuss art, equity, and community, preparing to do that with kids–and I can't think of anything else I'd rather do.”