Engaging with works of art is a wonderful way to discuss ideas in an open and constructive environment. This spring the Museum piloted several programs for multilingual visitors and English language learners in Northwest Arkansas. In March, April, and May, the Education Department collaborated with high schools in Bentonville and Rogers to invite families participating in the ESL (English as a Second Language) or PADRES (Parents Advancing Readiness for Education Success) programs to attend the Museum for evenings filled with fun, interactive engagement with art.
Each month’s open-house event was similar, but featured a program with a different local high school. Museum educators worked with school staff members to design programs to fit the needs of that school’s non-native English speakers. Refreshments and Museum information were provided, there were engaging hands-on art activities suitable for all ages, and participants could attend guided tours of the Museum’s permanent collection galleries facilitated by Museum Educators, with Spanish translation provided by interpreters from the schools.
Guided tours featured inquiry-based discussion and focused on narratives, encouraging visitors to create their own stories about the works of art. Everyone was welcome to participate in the conversation by sharing their own narratives—either in their native language or in English, depending on their level of comfort. A collage studio art activity focused on heritage, family, and identity, allowing visitors to work independently or collaborate with family members.
For many families, attendance at one of these open-house events was their first experience at Crystal Bridges, and they were excited to learn more about Museum activities and future events. We hope events like these will foster continued engagement among participants, school programs, and the Museum, culminating in lasting relationships. In the future, we look forward to continuing to work with NWA communities to develop more multilingual events at Crystal Bridges.
Community Programs are designed to engage diverse audiences at the Museum through shared educational experiences. To learn more about Community Programs, visit http://crystalbridges.org/education/community-programs/.