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Visual Artists as Entrepreneurs and Marketers
September 2013
Visual Artists as Entrepreneurs and Marketers

Audain Art Museum
June 2013
Siting an Art Museum in a Forest

Gordon Smith Gallery
November 2012
Boosting the Profile of Artists for Kids

September 2012
From glacial meltwater to contemporary art

Morris & Helen Belkin Gallery
June 2012
Professional curators of contemporary art were once as scarce as hen's teeth

Equinox Gallery
April 2012
Gallery owners have their eye on East Vancouver

Equinox Gallery
February 2012
Gallery owners have their eye on East Vancouver

Jacana Gallery
November 2011
Nothing is certain but death and taxes

Satellite Gallery
September 2011
Hope springs eternal

June 2011
The Hotel Waldorf

April 2011
Education for the eye,
soul and mind

February 2011
Fine art inkjet prints
are here to stay

November 2010
SAAG endows the old
with new possibilities

September 2010

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Gallery Views

School tour

Courtesy: Art Gallery of Ontario

Education for the eye, soul and mind


Osvaldo Ramirez Castillo, Raising La Mama Grande

Courtesy: Vancouver Art Gallery

Six decades ago in Toronto, a single visit to the Art Gallery of Ontario was a curriculum requirement for sixth grade pupils. A pencil thin lady led the tour. I remember nothing she said, but the AGO’s Group of Seven landscapes were unforgettable. It was Diego Rivera’s art, however, that invaded my soul. Before that day, graphic expressions of oppression and murder were unknown to me. This requisite gallery trip directed the future course of my life.

When I was Assistant Curator (Education) at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 1965, like my AGO forebear, I introduced whole busloads of children to the gallery’s purpose and talked about a few highlights in the VAG’s then-small collection. By that decade most galleries had docents trained in art history, art appreciation and question-and-answer techniques. These volunteers discussed specific artworks with smaller clusters of pupils.

When employed at Surrey Art Gallery in the late 1980s, I observed that this basic system was still followed by Ingrid Kolt, the institution’s Art Education specialist. Here, however, the SAG’s docents were mainly taught about contemporary art and art issues, since the permanent collection at that time held only late-20th century works. By the beginning of the 21st century the majority of important art institutions (big or small) anywhere in the world were becoming familiar with new technologies like video and computer-generated art, new materials such as polyester resin, and art movements and their attendant philosophies that were in constant flux; but the traditional school tour was by no means dead.

It amused me that the internet promo for “Gallery Visits for Schools 2010-2011” at the AGO includes a photo of seated children listening to a guide talk about the same Group of Seven canvases I saw sixty years ago. According to this brief article, the AGO’s current school programs connect “students to art and art to your classroom” utilizing resources from the wide-ranging collection.

Like its Canadian peer, Portland Art Museum in Oregon is now also in possession of vast holdings. PAM is famous for its special collections of Native American and Northwest art and its permanent exhibitions of Asian art. Despite this specialized wealth, PAM’s educational philosophy as expressed on the web seems uninspired. Seattle Art Gallery’s educational resources and philosophy appears to be far more exciting. On the internet, we learn that unique learning opportunities can be accessed at all three SAM locations. Among other aims, SAM wants students and teachers “to develop critical understandings of art and culture.”

School groups are also catered to at Seattle’s Frye Museum which, since 1952, has operated in the bequeathed Frye mansion with a 250-piece start-up collection that Wikipedia describes as being full of dark, dramatic, realistic narratives. After recent expansion and the employment of curators who know how to mount interesting shows, the Frye remains a special place for children to learn through lectures, events and hands-on experiences.

Kevin Griffin’s February 6, 2009 Vancouver Sun article summarizes the strategy behind this city’s most bustling art education program in its headline: “Vancouver Art Gallery gets them young, tells them lots”. This implies that art will catch, inform, then hold their attention forever, as it has mine.

Ann Rosenberg is a freelance curator, critic


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