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Erie Art Museum

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Erie Art Museum Exhibit Smells a Little Like Teen Spirit

Erie, PA, February 07, 2009 --( The Erie Art Museum’s newest exhibit smells a little like teen spirit. The very popular Kids As Curators exhibit, now in its fifth year, returns with a new crop of students and their fresh ideas about art and collecting. The exhibit debuts on Friday, February 6, 2009 at the Erie Art Museum Annex Gallery,
423 State Street, and runs through March 22, 2009. A free public reception is scheduled for Gallery Night on Friday, March 6, 2009 from 7-10 p.m.

Freshman at General McLane’s Experience Academy introduce visitors to a local flora via an amphitheater installation. Harding Elementary School students display personal collections of patterns. Walnut Creek Middle School has created a large scale, interactive sculpture about how the students, and their forbears, survived hard times.

“Kids love stuff and collecting. So many 13 year-olds’ bedrooms are stockpiles of cultural artifacts, from nail polish samples to skateboards and backpacks,” says Kelly Armor, the Erie Art Museum Education and Folk Art Director Kelly Armor. “If we can get them to understand that they, like museums, love collecting interesting stuff, then we can spark an interest in museums that may last a lifetime.”

According to Armor, Kids As Curators teaches the exhibit process of collecting, categorizing, curating and presenting.

“The same basic process describes how to write and edit; it is an excellent way to organize human history, and science is built upon our ability to categorize. This project allows kids to really think about their collections and formally share them with the public. It has become one of our most popular exhibits, not only with families but with local artists,” said Armor. “Their distinctive youthful playfulness spills out in their selection, evaluation, interpretation, and presentation of their objects of interest.”

Each year the Erie Art Museum teams up with three schools representing rural, urban and suburban populations. After an extensive training at the Erie Art Museum, the teachers are charged with helping their students create an exhibit drawing from their collections. The school exhibits are then professionally installed at the Museum for the community to enjoy. Schools are given plenty of freedom to decide just what kinds of collections and the theme they’ll employ.

“Although we give plenty of support, we don’t’ tell teachers or students what their exhibit should be like. That way we get different ideas each year. Some schools collect data and make a science exhibit, others have a community focus, and others have created sculptural pieces out of junk drawer donations,” said Armor. “Local artists tell me they look forward to the exhibit each year. They find it fresh, unconventional, and inspiring. It is a rare look inside the imaginations of our preteen population. Also, kids want their exhibit to be interactive, so they make sure there are fun things for visitors to do.”

This project is supported by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences, and corporate sponsorship from Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield.

“Middle school kids told me that an art museum’s job was to inspire creativity and to get people to think,” says Armor. “Their exhibits are proof that they really do know what they are talking about.”

About the Erie Art Museum
The Erie Art Museum anchors downtown Erie’s cultural and economic revitalization, occupying a group of restored mid-19th century commercial buildings, including an outstanding 1839 Greek Revival Bank. It maintains an ambitious program of 15 to 18 changing exhibitions annually, embracing a wide range of subjects, both historical and contemporary and including folk art, contemporary craft, multi-disciplinary installations, community-based work, as well at traditional media.

The Erie Art Museum also holds a collection of over 6,000 objects, which includes significant works in American ceramics, Tibetan painting, Indian bronzes, contemporary baskets, and a variety of other categories.

The Museum offers a wide range of education programs and artists’ services including interdisciplinary and interactive school tours and a wide variety of classes for the community. Performing arts are showcased in the 24-year-old Contemporary Music Series, which represents national and international performers of serious music with an emphasis on composer/performers, and a popular annual two-day Blues & Jazz festival.

The Erie Art Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Admission is free for members, free on Wednesdays, $4 for adults, $3 for senior citizens and students and $2 for children under 12.

Contact Information
Tammy Roche

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