CHAT begins art museum with Kennedy Center

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 24, 2005

Poster boards and brightly colored slips of paper decorated tables inside the Selma Middle CHAT Academy library on Friday as seventh-graders spent part of their day learning how to become museum curators.

Students worked in groups to design their ideal museum on poster board, using the slips of paper to represent artifacts on display.

Brittany Reese and Tiffany Lister worked together to create the museum for memorabilia.

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“We’re putting our favorite things at the front of the museum, and the things we don’t like so much towards the back,” Tiffany said.

A few tables over, a group of boys were busy designing their own music museum.

Raymond Craig pointed out each section of the museum in his group’s design.

“Over here you can listen to lyrics, and here is where you can listen to the musicians tell their stories. In this section, you can act out your favorite music group,” Raymond said.

Overseeing the students’ work was Peg Koetsch, a traveling artist with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Koetsch has spent the past few days in Selma teaching students in the Selma City and Dallas County public school systems about the functions of a museum through her Museum-in-Progress program.

The Selma Arts Council sponsored Museum-in-Progress through its Partners in Education program with the Kennedy Center.

Museum-in-Motion began in the fall when Koetsch hosted workshops for teachers at Selma Middle, Dallas County High and Southside High on the process of creating educational exhibits.

Koetsch said the assignment on Friday was to get CHAT students thinking about what type educational exhibit they would like to create and later unveil to the entire school.

“The purpose of this project is to turn the schools into museums,” Koetsch said. “The classes will work together to come up with a theme or themes the could merge together. Teachers will assign projects that students will work on together or as homework.”

The students will then create an exhibit using a wide variety of materials and artwork.

Marsha Carmichael, one of the CHAT teaches involved in the program, said the students have not yet decided what type of museum display they would like to create.

“We’re just getting started with trying to find an idea and collect our artifacts,” Carmichael said.

CHAT students paid a visit to the National Voting Rights Museum on Friday after completing their drawings to get an idea of how real museum exhibits are displayed and presented to the public.

Sandy Greene, head of the Selma Arts Council, said the Museum-in-Motion program is the last Arts Council-sponsored program for this year and, possibly, even longer.

“Since 1996, we have been associated with the Kennedy Center to bring artists from all over the country here for teacher workshops, residency programs and projects in the schools,” Greene said. “Because our funding has been cut so deeply, we are not going to be able to provide any more programs to city and county schools this school year. If we don’t secure more funding, we may have to dissolve the Arts Council altogether.”

Greene said the Selma Arts Council is funded through membership, donations, the City of Selma and the Alabama State Council on the Arts.

“We receive matching grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts,” Greene said. “The City of Selma usually gives us the match, but we got cut from the city’s budget this year and that has really hurt us.”

Carmichael said teachers appreciate the work of the Selma Arts Council in providing the schools with unique and fun programs.

“We are preparing to have big unveiling of our displays this April,” she said.