Category Archives: Education

New Directions in Adult Education Programming

Lynn Zelevansky, Henry Heinz II Director of Carnegie Museum of Art

The museum recently announced changes to its adult education programming to allow for art-making experiences that are event-based, flexible, and responsive to special opportunities, like visiting artists, and to artworks on view in the galleries.

One result of this change is the decision to discontinue our semester-long adult studio classes. Because I know this will disappoint a group of dedicated museum members, I feel that it is important to share our larger vision.

First, let me be clear that we did not cancel the entire adult education program. We cancelled only semester-long adult studio classes. We retain staff that works exclusively on adult classes, workshops, lectures, etc. and they remain very busy producing established and new programming.

The elimination of the classes in question is the result of a rigorous and thoughtful reappraisal of our education programs by a task force made up of museum staff. I formed this task force because I realized that, in order to serve an ever-changing public, the education department had, over the years, implemented additional programs without subtracting or fundamentally altering others. The result was an exhausted staff with little time left for the creative thought necessary to really shape those offerings.

One of the recommendations of the task force was the elimination of the studio classes. In 2012 total enrollment in adult studio classes was 422. While we know that those taking studio classes received excellent instruction from skilled instructors, and while we care deeply about enrollees, we need to use limited resources to serve a broad public. Many people are not able to commit to 5–10 week courses, nor are they available during the day, when many of the studio sessions take place.

Our chief goal with adult education is to open people up to the pleasures of seeing and, especially, looking at art. We remain dedicated to the idea that making things helps many people understand and appreciate what artists do. We believe, however, that we can reach a broader constituency and lessen the weight on our staff by offering workshops that are specifically tied to museum exhibitions and programs. We’ve done this quite successfully in the recent past with a program about architectural renovation and redesign associated with the 2010 exhibition, Imagining Home, and with this year’s participatory photography exhibition Oh Snap! Our next venture (after tonight’s 2-Minute Film Festival) will be a drawing workshop with the 2013 Carnegie International artist, Nicole Eisenman, in February. Over the coming months, adult education staff will be looking for other opportunities to create a new season of art-making programming.

We at the museum are very grateful for the dedication of the people who have been committed to our studio classes over the years, and feel confident that our programs will continue to provide inspiring experiences.

Please look for announcements as we embark on the strategic next steps—I am excited to see the ways that our educators make new connections and develop new ideas around our ever-changing in-gallery program.

Video: The Art Connection

We just wanted to say thanks to everyone who came out on Sunday, April 14 to mark the opening of The Art Connection Annual Student Exhibition! Check out the video to see our student artists hard at work in the museum’s studios as they prepared for this year’s exhibition. Throughout the school year, students in grades 5–9 worked through the creative process with the help of teaching artists in the museum’s galleries and studios. Artworks in this year’s exhibition reflect the influence of recent exhibitions such as White Cube, Green Maze: New Art Landscapes, Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Art at the World’s Fairs, 1851–1939, and Cory Arcangel: Masters.


Whoa Buddy!

app1-480x389When I’m not working on CMOA’s Kids and Family Programs, I’ve been working on my own art and technology endeavor, The App Expo, with fellow artist Ashley Andrews. This weekend, we teamed up with Google programmer and fellow artist, Ciarán Ó Conaire and entered the first ever Steel City Codefest, a 24-hour app making competition at Google’s Bakery Square offices. The competition was presented cooperatively by the City of Pittsburgh, The Urban Redevelopment Authority, Google, and others, and it was attended by 100 local programmers, developers, and designers. The challenge: To use newly available community-based data provided by the mayor’s office to create an app that benefits the community at large… in 24 hours!

Watch the video on

We used nearly all of those hours and felt weary by Sunday morning’s judging session but successfully completed and presented our app called Whoa, Buddy!  With the concept of community-building in mind, we designed Whoa, Buddy! to promote “IRL” interactions and responsible use of social media through funny pop-up messages, which psychologically nudge users to reconsider their social media posts in favor of live social interactions and community activities (like visiting CMOA, for instance).

I’m happy to report (and brag) that we were awarded a notable mention as well as the judge’s commendation for artistic merit. We also built an enormous paper Commodore 64 (below) on which to “run” our app (via projector).

If you’re a coder, programmer, designer, or artist, I highly recommend this sure-to-become-annual Pittsburgh event. As for Whoa, Buddy!, a downloadable version of our app will be available for Android devices soon. Whoa, Buddy! will also be presented at future iterations of our ongoing exhibition series, The App Expo.

Wallflowers and Wildflowers

Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History, Carnegie Libraries of Pittsburgh, and the Mayor’s Youth Council recently teamed up to present Wallflowers and Wildflowers, an alternative homecoming dance for local high school students. The sold-out event was held in Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Botany Hall and Halls of North American and African Wildlife, and it was attended by a creative and enthusiastic group of local high school students.

CLP’s librarian and event founder, Joseph Wilk, describes it best on the event’s Facebook page, where students are already rallying for the alternative homecoming to become an annual event: “Maybe your school doesn’t have a football team or maybe you’re not allowed to bring a date or maybe you don’t have a school you call home but have a home you call school…” Students, many of whom did not attend traditional homecoming dances this year, appreciated the unique opportunity to celebrate in a positive and accepting environment.

The event featured dancing and fun activities led by Carnegie Museum of Art’s teaching artists, Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Teen Docents, Assemble, and The Labs at CLP. Also, Perks of Being a Wallflower author Stephen Chbosky, a teen favorite, sent autographed books and posters, which were raffled off to a few lucky attendees!

Check out more of Martha Rial’s photography of the event and author Stephen Chbosky’s special video message to Wallflowers and Wildflowers attendees.

Photographs © Martha Rial. Martha is a Pittsburgh-based photographer and Pulitzer Prize–winner. See more of her amazing work at

Think Like a Hacker

“Not-so-silent-awe” is how I might describe high school students’ collective reaction to Cory Arcangel: Masters on Saturday, November 3. Maybe they were surprised to find familiar imagery from Nintendo and YouTube in the museum’s Forum Gallery, or maybe they were overcome by inspiration… Or maybe it was the artist himself, who led a gallery talk about his work on view in Masters.

Arcangel also talked to the students about his creative process, inspiration (favorite video games and music), and why he decided to become an artist in the first place. During the workshop, students created low-tech responses to works on view in the exhibition, specifically responding to the concept of appropriation and Arcangel’s hacker sensibility.

Many of the participating high school students are in their fifth year of The Art Connection program, a Saturday art class for students in grades 5 through 9. Students in The Art Connection spend Saturdays during the school year working toward the annual student exhibition by studying works on view in the galleries and creating in the museum’s studios, guided by our teaching artists. While the students’ works for the spring exhibition are still in-progress, I predict that Arcangel’s influence will be observable in the their work. Arcangel’s advice to our group of emerging artists? Just make stuff. Don’t worry about it being good or bad. The more stuff you make, the more good stuff you’ll make.

Try your hand at the Arcangel-inspired video activity at this Thursday’s Culture Club from 5:30 to 9:00 p.m.

Know a high school student who might want to join us for a workshop? Check out our programs and classes.