DMA Awarded Significant Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services

Government Funding Will Help Create Higher Quality Teaching Materials through Connect: Teachers, Technology, and Art Project

Dallas, TX, January 5, 2010 The Dallas Museum of Art announced today that it has received a major grant of $150,000 from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) in their Museums for America (MFA) Grants Program. This grant – the second prestigious award made to the Museum from the IMLS in as many years – will be used to fund the DMA’s Connect: Teachers, Technology, and Art project. This new program will build on the Museum’s long tradition of serving teachers in the Dallas and greater North Texas community by developing a model for converting, producing and delivering dynamic, web-based teaching units for classroom use.

“We are honored that the IMLS has recognized the Dallas Museum of Art with this important national grant for our innovative teaching programs that engage educators with our collections, said Bonnie Pitman, The Eugene McDermott Director at the Dallas Museum of Art. “With it, our dedication to working effectively with teachers will now be enhanced and expanded in an exciting new project, Connect: Teachers, Technology, and Art. This project will emphasize professional development opportunities for teachers and result in dynamic online materials for classroom use. Our partnership with North Texas teachers has been invaluable, and with this IMLS award we look forward to better serving them and the children they teach.”

Connect: Teachers, Technology, and Art is an unprecedented opportunity to create higher quality teaching materials through the application of a DMA study on how teachers learn and teach with works of art. Its specific goal is to connect teachers and students, and the public, with the DMA’s important African and South Asian collections. It plans to accomplish this not only through the application of the new scholarly research on the Museum’s collections but also with the use of the Museum’s expanded technology capabilities provided by the Arts Network, a system that effectively and efficiently creates and delivers content to onsite and online visitors and which is funded by an earlier grant from IMLS.

Recognizing the important role teachers play as a key audience, in 2007 the DMA conducted a study with 450 Dallas-area K–12 teachers. Results from it describe teachers’ varied learning and teaching preferences and will serve as a basis for the development of online materials for teachers in the Connect project. When asked to rate five approaches to using works of art in the classroom, all teachers rated “I use works of art to explore cultures from around the world” the highest.

“The DMA’s decision to focus on teaching materials related to the new research on the African and South Asian collections aligns well with our earlier experiments with new formats for teaching materials,” said Gail Davitt, The Dallas Museum of Art League Director of Education. “Now, with this generous grant from IMLS, we can extend our efforts and collaborate directly with teachers to convert and redesign the Museum’s web-based teaching materials to be most effective for all those participating.”

An example of how Connect will be implemented involves the DMA’s new catalogue on the African collection, The Arts of Africa. Published in November, it examines over 100 figures, masks, and other works of art that represent 52 cultures, from Morocco to South Africa. The works of art in the DMA’s collections are presented under the themes of leadership and status, the cycle of life, decorative arts, and influences (imported and exported), and are accompanied by photographs that show the context in which they were used. Imagine a collaborative session between education staff at the DMA and K–12 teachers focused on the development of an African online teaching unit about human connection themes in African art such as “leadership” or “life after death.” Together, they consider great works of art like the cast bronze plaque of an oba, or a brass and copper-clad wooden Janus reliquary guardian figure from Gabon that communicates ideas about funerary practices. Collaboratively, they select contextual images, information, and multimedia components to shape a unit serving teachers’ varied approaches to teaching world cultures through works of art.

The Arts Network is the DMA’s plan to use technology to connect the broadest audience with great works of art in diverse and creative ways. The Museum-wide system features an effective program development process and adaptable delivery system. The Arts Network will make possible the creation of a template for building dynamic teaching units that will have the potential to be replicated by other museums and cultural organizations, regardless of size.

Once completed, the DMA will deliver five redesigned, tested and evaluated teaching material units based on works of art in the African and South Asian collections that better address the ways teachers teach and learn. Based on current usage, the DMA anticipates that these units will reach 5,000 teachers annually. In the future, the development and production process established to complete these teaching units will provide a model for assessing, redesigning and evaluating the Museum’s other 25 existing units and inform the creation of new units. The DMA’s educational resources will be accessible to a vastly larger audience through user-friendly technology.

About the IMLS Museums for America Grant
Museums for America is the Institute’s largest grant program for museums, providing more than $19 million in grants to support the role of museums in American society to sustain cultural heritage, to support lifelong learning and to be centers of community engagement. Museums for America grants strengthen a museum’s ability to serve the public more effectively by supporting high-priority activities that advance the institution’s mission and strategic goals.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute's mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. To learn more about the Institute, please visit www.imls.gov. In 2007, the DMA received a National Leadership grant of $519,435 from the IMLS to advance its Arts Network.

About the Dallas Museum of Art
Located in the vibrant Arts District of downtown Dallas, Texas, the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) ranks among the leading art institutions in the country and is distinguished by its innovative exhibitions and groundbreaking educational programs. At the heart of the Museum and its programs are its encyclopedic collections, which encompass more than 24,000 works and span 7,000 years of history, representing a full range of world cultures. Established in 1903, the Museum today welcomes more than 700,000 visitors annually and acts as a catalyst for community creativity, engaging people of all ages and backgrounds with a diverse spectrum of programming, from exhibitions and lectures to concerts, literary readings and dramatic and dance presentations.

The Dallas Museum of Art is supported in part by the generosity of Museum members and donors and by the citizens of Dallas through the City of Dallas/Office of Cultural Affairs and the Texas Commission on the Arts.