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UMaine Museum of Art: Eva Wagner

May 25, 2012

Learn about Eva

I am very interested in the pathways that lead folks to their careers. Eva Wagner is doing a fabulous job as the Education Coordinator at the University of Maine Musuem of Art (UMMA). In February, when the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative teacher leaders and leadership team met to review the first phase, Eva kindly opened the doors for us to meet at the museum.

Eva kindly answered questions for this blog post. If you’d like to reach Eva and learn more about the offerings at UMMA please do so at Eva_Wagner@umit.maine.edu.

Background

I am the Education Coordinator at the University of Maine Museum of Art. I started my work here in July 2011. I completed the foundation program at the Maine College of Art in Portland and then went on to get my B.A. in Studio Art and MAT (Masters of Arts in Teaching) in Elementary Education from UMaine. I have a varied background that I think really helped prepare me for my work at the Museum. I have taught in public and private schools with students of all ages. I worked at an ad agency in New York City and was educator at the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland. I first became interested in Museum work when I went on an art and architecture tour of Paris and London when I was nineteen. I was drawn to art history and thought my guide had the best job in the world. Later at UMaine I was a work-study student at UMMA and that work helped me land my job at the Farnsworth. Here I am back at UMMA, so in a sense things have come full circle.

Goals, hopes, and dreams for UMMA

My goals, hopes and dreams for UMMA are that we develop a vibrant educational program that serves people of all ages. In addition to young children, teens and college age students I really want to reach adults. I want the Museum to become a destination for people, where we host book groups, regular drawing groups and teacher workshops. I would like to learn about and offer more programs involving technology as I feel technology will play an integral role in the art world as we move forward. I would like to offer more programs for new parents to get their children involved in an arts education from the beginning. I know how much my trip to Paris influenced my life and thus I would like to make travel to museum destinations in the U.S. and abroad more accessible to Maine students. I would like to build the Education department to include more educators but that is really a long term goal. I hope UMMA continues to grow and be a leader in arts education throughout the state. I wish UMaine could offer a top notch Museum Studies program as we currently do not have Museum Studies in the state. I know students who design their own programs through UMaine and USM but I would love to see an official program reinstated here at UMaine.

Strengths and opportunities that UMMA provides

We currently have two grants that educators may want to utilize: UMMA on the Road and Access to the Arts Transportation Grant, both funded through the University of Maine Patrons of the Arts. UMMA on the Road allows me to travel to schools with our traveling exhibits. I share the exhibit and we discuss the work using the Elements of Art and Principles of Design and then do a hands-on workshop. I have implemented lessons on landscapes, portraits and printmaking to schools throughout Maine and have had great feedback. I have worked with children from pre-school through high school in art, science, social studies, language arts and visual literacy classes. The Access to the Arts Transportation Grant allows UMMA to provide a bus subsidy to schools who visit the Museum. We reimburse schools up to $175.00 for their bus fee. I have developed a host of gallery and studio activities that students can take part in when they visit. UMMA has also provided artist gallery talks for students. Jemma Gascoine and Ruth Marshall who are currently on exhibit gave gallery talks to student from Holbrook School and Brewer Community School. Both of these programs have really enhanced the Maine student experience and I hope more educators will take advantage of them.

I am also very proud of our Young Curators program which we developed this year. We invited students between the ages of 11-18 to apply and from there we selected a strong group of students. This is a seven week program where students meet one afternoon per week to get a behind the scenes look at a contemporary art museum. They meet with all members of the staff, take part in a matt cutting workshop, and work together to curate their own show from selections from our permanent collection. They also research artists and art works and create wall text for their show. They will present their work at our Member’s Preview reception on June 21, 2012.  There is no charge for this program, UMMA staff  have all taken time out of their busy schedules to make it happen and I am very grateful to this amazing staff for their commitment to education.

What would you do with a gift of $500,000?

If I were given $500,000 to do whatever I pleased, I would develop a traveling Young Curators program. Many young people in Maine do not have the opportunity to go to Boston, New York or San Francisco let alone Paris, Florence or Athens. I would like to see these opportunities be more accessible to young people of Maine. My vision is that we would have a core of Young Curators who perhaps met monthly here to do research and writing and then had a two week tour to a different destination each summer. Students and parents would be responsible to raise part of their funds to cover the cost of travel but the foundation could help make it all possible. Students from all over Maine could apply. I really believe that access to an arts education and travel early in life is a vehicle to a better appreciation for our history as humans, and this affects how we move forward in the world.

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