Thursday, April 14, 2011

Best Practices in Museum Education: Museums and Schools as Co-Educators

There are some exciting culminating events coming up as part of our “Best Practices in Museum Education: Museums and Schools as Co-Educators,” a 2010-2011 grant program. The program is  administered by the Montana Historical Society and funded by the Office of Public Instruction’s Indian Education division.
     Six communities participated in this program, and in each, students, teachers, and museum professionals joined together to engage in serious study on topics relating to Montana Indian history and culture. In all cases, student research is being shared with the larger public, either through programs, publications, educational footlocker, or museum exhibits.
    For example, Columbus eighth and twelfth graders are working with the Museum of the Beartooths to create educational material on the history of Crow people and the second Crow Agency in Stillwater County, including a booklet that will be available through the museum. Choteau students are assisting The Old Trail Museum in improving their exhibit on the Old North Trail. Cut Bank students are studying boarding schools, and the Glacier County Historical Society plans to use their research to create a living history program. Great Falls students worked with the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center to study native plants and created a booklet and educational games that to share the information they learned with other students.
Several of the partners are hosting culminating events to share their work with the public.
  • On May 12, Hardin High School students, who have been studying Crow Fair, are participating in the Big Horn County Museum’s Kids History Day, a day of hands-on activities for grade school students. 
  • Livingston students working with the Yellowstone Gateway Museum of Park County will share their research at a public gala on June 3.
  • On June 4, the Museum of the Beartooths in Columbus is inviting the public to attend the unveiling of a commissioned piece for the Museum by Crow architect Daniel Glenn.  The work is a small-scale replica of the Absaroka Agency Fort, which served as the second Crow Agency from 1875-1884. A commemorative community event near the site of the historic Absaroka Agency will precede the unveiling at 11:00 am, and is free and open to the public. (Those wishing to attend the onsite gathering should RSVP to event facilitator Shane Doyle, at 406-209-0605 or shanemrdoyle@yahoo.com.)
Whether the culminating project is a living history program, booklet, educational footlocker, museum exhibit, or presentation, each school-museum collaboration is helping to fulfill Montana’s constitutional mandate: to recognize “the distinct and unique cultural heritage of American Indians and … to provide education preserving the cultural integrity of each Montana tribal nation.”

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