A local museum has kept their 100 year long goal of immersing Oklahomans in art from across the globe alive through programs and events held at the museum; the Creative Arts Camp throughout the summers is one way they have focused on allowing students to experience art and learn from it at a young age.
“We're still open” said Amber DuBoise-Shepherd, Manager of Education and Outreach at the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art.
Many believe since the closing of St. Gregory University, the museum is also closed, but that isn't the case; despite some of their funding being lost from the recent closing of the university, the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art is still open and currently offers summer art camps for youth.
From the start of this museum, the founder, Father Gregory Gerrer, had the goal of bringing art to Oklahoma and letting local people truly experience the world through art. That is still the goal of the museum 100 years later.
The museum has an impressive collection that includes ancient Egyptian mummies, shrunken heads, South and Central American art pieces, Roman and Greek antiquities, paintings from the Middle Ages and Renaissance periods, Native American Art from many tribes and much more.
DuBoise-Shepherd grew up going to the Mabee-Gerrer museum and specifically remembers how fascinated she was with the mummies as a young child.
“I was the kid who'd smoosh my face against the glass to look at them,” recalled DuBoise-Shepherd.
Coming back to her hometown of Shawnee, DuBoise-Shepherd has eventually taken over an education program at the museum focused on exposing students to art.
The museum has an education collection of art with the purpose of allowing students to be able to touch and handle certain ancient pieces to add an extra layer of familiarity to art.
DuBoise-Shepherd said it is often hard for little ones to not be able to touch the exhibits so this offers them a way to interact with the art; kids can even put on one of the ancient helmets and look around with it.
A part of the education department at the museum is the summer programs they offer. The Creative Arts Camps are one of the programs offered for students.
This program was for children from age 5 to age 13. The morning sessions were offered for 5-8 year olds, and the afternoon sessions for the 9-13 year olds.
Tuition for these camps was $60 including supplies. Scholarships were also available for those children who qualify. There is a $10 discount for members and student who are enrolled in EPIC charter schools also receive a discount per EPIC.
Each of these one-week camps has an art exhibit that families and friends of the students are encouraged to attend and check out their student's art work.
Students who are homeschooled may even be able to receive an art credit through these programs.
While registration for these summer programs are closed this year, there are many more programs and features offered by the museum for students.
“Brick by Brick” is the STEAM Camp with Thick Descriptions offered this week at the museum.
According to Allisyn Burleigh, an instructor for the “Brick by Brick” course, this STEAM (standing for science, technology, art and mathematics) course is based on art through the engineering, technology and mathematics of flight.
For example, the students first begin by painting things that fly which pulls on prior knowledge then they work with LEGO bricks to build things that could fly which focuses on mathematics. The students will also be taught about the forces of flight and, to incorporate anthropology, the Tuskegee Airmen.
Each of the instructors of these summer programs have been or currently are educators of some sort. Burleigh is currently a teacher at Oklahoma City Public Schools. She works with Thick Descriptions over school breaks.
“My favorite part is meeting all the new kids. Each group is so unique,” said Burleigh.
Other programs offered by the museum are Teens/Tweens Clinics, tours and Field Trips for groups or schools.
After 100 years, the museum hopes to continue to bring art to Oklahoma and let local people truly experience the world through art in programs like these.
To help make this possible, anyone can donate supplies, time or even funding. There are so many ways to help the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art; to find out more about how to help, visit www.mgmoa.org or call (405) 878-5300.