For the past seven years, Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) has made contemporary art accessible to over 100,000 K-12 students through the Knight Schools’ tour program. Each week, our team of 13 teaching artists welcomed hundreds of students for tours. On any given day, you’d hear the chatter of students marching along the galleries in a single file line, oohing and aahing at the scale of the building and the works on the gallery walls.
Many of these students were visiting a museum for the very first time or had arrived in Miami less than a year ago and were still learning the language. Regardless of their previous experience or background, each student was welcomed warmly by our teaching artists and guided through the museum on a 90-minute tour, where students were given the opportunity to think critically about the artwork presented and invited to share their ideas in conversation. At the end of each tour, students explored their creativity with an art-making activity inspired by the artworks they had learned about.
“Our students truly enjoyed not only the art that was presented, but learning all about it. What made it even better for them, was the follow-up activity that allowed them to feel like an artist.” — Kindergarten teachers at Gulfstream Elementary
“Each teaching artist reached out to my students and were attentive to their questions and level of engagement. I watched how my students maintained focus on the presentation, not easy for 5 and 6 year olds, as well as comply with the verbal directions given by each of the teaching artists.” — Kindergarten teacher at Gulfstream
While the quotes shared above by teachers are very similar to those we may receive after a successful museum tour, they’re actually feedback received after completing the first round of our newly launched virtual tour program, PAMM in Your Classroom.
Since the museum temporarily closed its doors in March due to COVID-19, our world has been turned upside down and the normalcy of our routines and lives have changed. Yet, despite all of the uncomfortable changes going on in the world, our teaching artists wanted educators and students to know that PAMM is still here to support them and to bring inspiration into their lives through art. We knew that we wanted to find a way to continue to provide genuine human interaction and education—always fulfilling our mission and vision—while the doors of our physical space remained closed.
On April 14, we launched PAMM in Your Classroom with two Kindergarten classes from Gulfstream Elementary. Nearly 40 students logged on to pilot the new program, experiencing the activities we provide students within our galleries but now through an online setting. The educators were amazed at the level of engagement. All the teaching artists involved made the students feel important by asking them questions and praising their responses. The students were entertained, excited, and engaged with knowledge that does not only lends itself to the understanding of art, but also connects students to concepts of math, science, language, and music. While the educators and students were excited to connect with the teaching artists and learn about art, our teaching artists were just as excited to be able to connect with the students again and to see them enjoying the art.
The program consists of two components: Let’s Talk About Art and Let’s Make Art. In Let’s Talk About Art, students are in conversation with teaching artists on a selected artwork in PAMM’s permanent collection. The teaching artists use a presentation as a way to outline notable information about the artist and artwork, allowing students to view the work on their screens. In the Let’s Make Art follow-up session, the ideas and concepts covered in the first session are expanded upon through a hands-on art-making activity led by our teaching artists.
As we continue to build upon our selection of PAMM in Your Classroom curriculum, all K-12 teachers can sign up for an interactive session where they will learn about an artwork. Sessions last about 30-45 minutes and are free with registration. We have also created STEAM-focused experiences for kindergarten, middle, and high school students.
Through the creation of PAMM in Your Classroom, our team of teaching artists are able to create a small miracle by connecting with students in a time when so many people feel isolated.
This blog post is co-authored by Darwin Rodriguez, Grace Torres, Janessa Melendez, and Maria Theresa Barbist.