Curating a Culture of Respect /  Des Maux -  Des Musées - Des Mots

The Art to Raise Awareness and Prevent violence at schools: A pilot FRAME project between the Museums of Strasbourg, France and the Clark Art Institute of Williamstown, U.S.A.

Tomi Ungerer, untitled, soft and coloured pencil, wash drawing and collage on paper, 42 x 29 cm, 2014 © Tomi Ungerer/Musées de Strasbourg - Credit Musées de Strasbourg

Sponsored by Tomi Ungerer and with the support of the US Embassy in Paris and the US Consulate General in Strasbourg

What do the Little Dancer by Degas, the Slave Market by Gerôme, illustrations by Tomi Ungerer and The Tempter from Strasbourg’s cathedral have in common? Each work of art was the starting point for lively discussion between young people about human behavior and aggression.

One mission of the FRAME network is to foster exchanges between professionals of its member museums on both side of the Atlantic. Education staffs of these museums meet together on a regular basis in order to work about topical subjects.

In both France and the USA, there is a national mandate for schools to address the issue of violence in their curricula.  Building on the innovative FRAME project model of “Talking Art”, where adjudicated youth spend time engaging with art to increase their sense of self and agency, this bullying prevention project aims to utilize engaging with art as a vehicle to expand awareness about aggression and compassion, human relationships, perspectives and choices. In other words, this project connects young people and schools with art museums as a place to explore and contemplate contemporary social issues and problems – in this case aggression, violence and bullying.

Students and their teachers in 8th grade/4th level at the Bart Charter School in Adams, MA and the Hans Arp College in Strasbourg are participating in this pilot project.  In addition to engaging with art at the museums, teachers are reshaping some of their classroom activities to connect with the museum experiences and the related analytical thinking about the human condition. One of the exciting components of this project is a communication system set up between the two schools to share experiences, instructional approaches and to learn from the cultural differences and similarities about the problem of violence.  Artist Tomi Ungerer made a drawing about the issue of bullying in support of the project.  Both schools will do some sort of culminating project, involving making art as a form of violence prevention, sparked by Ungerer’s drawing.

Presented during the FRAME Education meeting in Lille in December 2014, this pilot project is likely to be continued next year in other FRAME museums in the United States and in France. At the end of this pilot year, Margaret Pfenninger (Museums of Strasbourg) and Ronna Tulgan Ostheimer (the Clark) will develop a curriculum model that can be shared with other museums that want to work with schools around the issue of bullying awareness and prevention.

Update 03/31/2015

FRAME Education program: Curating a Community of Respect

8th grade students from the Collège Hans Arp randomly pick a card offered by Martine Debaene, educator at the Tomi Ungerer Museum of Strasbourg. They are participating in the FRAME project Curating a community of respect in conjunction with the Clark. On each card is a word describing attitudes that help prevent violence and that will guide them through the museum and the works by the artist, Tomi Ungerer, the program’s patron. They are among the 120 students who visited 5 museums in Strasbourg March 13th. They will exchange experiences with the 80 students who will soon visit the Clark again early April (cf. the next Frame newsletter).