Museum on the Move: Bringing Art into the Classroom

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Homeschool Days, April 20, 2018. Photo by Derek Eckenroth

During the last few months the Museum & Gallery was still open, I witnessed the excitement and chaos that came with children’s events. Hordes of kids would race down the halls, brandishing their clipboards and pencils like shields and swords as they completed their scavenger hunts.

Meanwhile, we guards were more alert than ever. We tried making sure that the kids didn’t stab or scrape any of the paintings on display.

But then we had calmer days. While doing my rounds, I’d spot over twenty children sitting on the floor. They were fully engaged in an art history lesson taught by one of M&G’s educators.

M&G’s mission, as director Erin Jones puts it, is “to transform lives through fine art by reaching the whole person—heart, mind, and soul.” And thankfully this mission isn’t reserved for adults only. M&G also complements children’s educational experience with an art curriculum.

The Genesis of Museum on the Move

In the early 2000s, Sarah McCoy and Kirsten Daulton worked as M&G’s events and education coordinators, respectively. During those years, they realized that M&G could impact the SC Upstate even more. And to reach out, they thought about sending M&G educators to schools to teach lessons about art.

For director Jones, the purpose for a program like Museum on the Move would be to make the Museum & Gallery more accessible to students. Reaching out to them has exposed them to the Collection, critical thinking and art.

Donnalynn Hess, the director of education for M&G, said that McCoy and Daulton “came up with the idea of a ‘mail order’ Museum on the Move.” This children’s educational art program would “reach beyond” the walls of M&G. And it would include “cross-curricular content, activities, and artifacts needed” for arts and crafts.

Sadly, McCoy and Daulton’s original idea didn’t work out because of practical concerns like mailing costs. But, like Hess said, “an idea was born.” Since then, M&G’s educators have helped design the current program of Museum on the Move.

In 2008, M&G launched this outreach program. At first only one educator taught the lessons. And during its first year, Museum on the Move reached about 225 students.

The Impact of Museum on the Move

From kindergarten to high school, Museum on the Move serves a wide range of students. But the program focuses on kids between K5 and middle school.

For elementary students, Museum on the Move offers these art lessons:

  • Discovering the Elements Centers (K–2)
  • Uncovering the Mysteries of Ancient Egypt (1–5)
  • The Art of Illustration (1–5)
  • Marching into Medieval Times (1–5)
  • Art around the World (1–5)
  • Becoming DaVinci (1–5)
  • Careers in Art (1–5)
  • Poetry and Art (2–5)
  • Ancient Hebrew Culture (1–5)
  • Exploring Ancient Rome (3–5)
  • Diversity in Art (1–5)
  • Jumping into the Renaissance (1–5)
  • Math in Art (2–5)
  • Greek Drama (3–5)
  • Pottery of the Catawba Indians (1–5)
  • Reading a Painting: Symbols in Art (K–5)

For middle and high school students, Museum on the Move offers these following lessons, which can be adjusted depending on the grade level:

  • Uncovering the Mysteries of Ancient Egypt
  • Greek Mythology
  • A Look at Ancient Israel
  • Exploring Ancient Rome
  • Marching into Medieval Times
  • The Art of the Renaissance
  • Becoming DaVinci
  • Art of the Industrial Revolution
  • Protestant Reformation and Beyond
  • World War II and Art
  • Poetry and Art
  • Propaganda and Art
  • Math in Art
  • Careers in Art
  • Exploring Spanish Art
  • Science in Art
  • Forensic Skills in Art
  • Reading a Painting: Symbols in Art

The Curriculum of Museum on the Move

The Museum & Gallery website assures users that the program’s lessons “integrate art with the core subject areas, meet the South Carolina state standards, and are taught by our South Carolina certified education coordinator, Carissa Wells.”

Museum on the Move also helps students see art as a practical aspect of life. The program integrates art into other core subjects. Examples include “Math in Art” and “Science in Art” lesson plans.

This model of education follows the “arts-integration curriculum.” It’s basically a method that “promotes student learning in both the arts and across all core subjects.” The curriculum includes STEM topics, social studies and literature.

Educators on the Move

Every year, the teachers from the Museum & Gallery partner with schools in the area to provide in-school, arts-integrated lessons for students. Most of the schools Museum on the Move reaches are public schools. Director Jones said that M&G outreaches always draw people back to the Museum & Gallery and to Bob Jones University.

Director Jones reported that in the 2017–2018 academic year, M&G “educators taught 487 lessons to well over 11,000 students—95% are in public schools.” M&G educators are committed to making art relevant to students. And SC school teachers appreciate that. A lot.

Ben Whitley, a 6th Grade Social Studies teacher from Fisher Middle School, enjoyed having M&G’s educators visit. He said that “the lesson was valuable to the students and the activities encouraged student participation.” Whitley also said he wanted M&G teachers to visit again.

Another Social Studies teacher, Cynthia Brown from Blue Ridge Middle School loved M&G’s visit. She said her “students enjoyed the interactive lesson—dancing, art, visual aids, and hands-on materials.” She called the Museum & Gallery educator “amazing” and “very enthusiastic.”

The Gospel on the Move

Director Jones said that although “M&G cannot share the full Gospel or Romans Road in the public school setting, the Lord’s testimony is present not only in the lives of our educators, but also in the worldview and type of art presented in the lessons.”

Jones also said that Museum on the Move opens up opportunities to reach students’ homes. “It shows that we care enough to go to them in their circumstances and need—not expecting or requiring them to come to us,” Jones said.

“This is a way for us to demonstrate a love and interest in them and their needs, which is about meeting the Second Great Commandment of loving our neighbor.”

Museum on the Move is one of the four elements of the Museum & Gallery’s umbrella program for art education, Arts Encounter. It also includes Kids Create!, Cultural Discovery Tours and Homeschool Days. To learn more about the Museum & Gallery Collection, online resources and public programming, visit