Two courses completed my final semester of graduate school at GWU: Proposal Writing and Museum Evaluation. This time, our cohort of 15 divided into two groups, and each group wrote a grant proposal and conducted an evaluation study for local museums. One group completed their grant application and evaluation for real-life projects at the National Zoo.
My own group wrote a grant proposal for the Alice Ferguson Foundation; we visited their headquarters, Hard Bargain Farm, twice. HBF is a historic house and working farm in Accokeek, Maryland. It was the home and muse of artist Alice Ferguson and today houses an art collection in addition to its current primary focus of being open to school groups for environmental education activities. Besides writing a grant proposal for a traveling art exhibit for the organization, I also wrote an article for AFF’s newsletter, which can be found here.
And for my Museum Evaluation project, I ended up right back where I started the Museum Education Program: the Freer and Sackler Galleries. My classmates and I immersed ourselves in experiencing spotlight talks offered by docents at both galleries, and conducted focus groups with the docents to explore what form the spotlight offerings took and how docents understood the benefits they could provide to visitors. The exhibits on view at the time included a beautiful Buddhist shrine from Tibet.
As a DC-area native, I was already familiar with many of the museums I visited during graduate school, but my coursework nonetheless brought me to some new places: Rock Creek Park Visitor Center, the Walters Art Museum, Hard Bargain Farm, and the Smithsonian facilities in Suitland, Maryland. Since graduating, I have been to 50-something additional cultural sites in DC, Maryland, and Virginia that I had never visited before – clearly the local-wanderlust has not left me.
July’s blog theme is Studying Museums.