Museum Musings by Amanda
The role of a teacher is vital to any child’s learning. They help kids focus their critical reading skills with questions like: Who? What? Where? Why? How? The Dynamic Earth and emPowered exhibits answer all of these questions with ease and comfort while enhancing the learning experience with fun technology. From the Natural Selection finch racing game to the wild tornado simulator, visitors can engage with technology that is designed to help them focus on the educational aspects of the exhibit while having fun. There is a sound satellite that kids can rotate to find the sound of the animals, and there are sustainable energy wheels and throttles that engage visitors of all ages. By engaging the visitor with cool technology, this exhibit becomes a great hands-on learning tool for teachers, parents and kids. After visiting this exhibit and using with the interactives, kids will probably be more interested in finishing their science homework! All of a sudden, Darwin’s theory doesn’t seem so hypothetical and antiquated; by giving a taste of the real life implications and allowing kids to have a go at it, their interest is heightened and the subjects that once were lackluster come to life through the creative space and engaging stations.
Walking through the exhibits, I found myself remembering the science textbooks of my earlier school years. The covers of these textbooks were always eye-catching with colorful illustrations like rainforest frogs, bolts of lightening or the solar system. While these books were always entertaining the class with vivid illustrations and photographs between the lengthy paragraphs of dry information, these science textbooks were also always thick and heavy. The exhibits Dynamic Earth and emPowered, with engaging play stations and artistry much like the textbooks are a great place to go visit as your child’s science class learns about animal habitats, the food chain, energy and sustainability, and earth’s minerals and materials. Exploring the e is an engaging and seamless adventure through the different chapters of the science textbook. I came out understanding more about different topics and had fun using the cool technology that makes the exhibit modern and integrated, and fun and hands-on!
Museum Musings by Amanda
The theme this week at Camp Newark Museum is ‘Make a Sustainable Future.’ You might think that learning about hydroelectricity, solar, wind and geothermal power would be soporific to the indefatigable campers (don’t you wish they sold Little Kid Energy instead of 5-Hour Energy?—it would last a whole day!). But as I watched from outside the classroom of the 5 and 6 year olds, waiting to take pictures, the kids were fully attentive and eager to engage as the high school aged science Explorers explained to them the multitude of uses and importance of reusable energy sources. The reason for the campers’ full attention is the structure of each day at camp. A well oiled machine, Camp Newark Museum has been around for years serving families in the surrounding area, from Newark to Springfield. The staff is committed to making each day rewarding and fun for the campers at the same time keeping the kids safe and healthy.
A camper at Camp Newark Museum has a busy schedule every day. Special activities range from Art to Science, from Music and Movement to Maker Corp, and from Planetarium play to free time in the garden. The older groups even take weekly trips to the local Glassroots and come home with unique glass art that they have made themselves. The art projects made in class are based on pieces in the Newark Museum’s expansive art collection. The Camp Exhibition of Week One focused on the Chinese New Year. Each class created dragons to celebrate the holiday. Chinese culture is important to the museum because of the large Chinese art collection at the museum. If you visited the galleries that week you probably would have seen the camp classes walking through the Chinese collection looking for inspiration for their dragons.
Testimonials on the Newark Museum website speak for themselves. One parent wrote “It was our first summer camp experience—fun and educational at the same time…What a treasure in NJ! Thank you for such a positive experience.” Stop by the museum for a visit to the galleries and consider sending your child to have fun and learn at the same time at Camp Newark Museum! The Newark Museum proves to be a wonderful camp environment for kids ages 3 to 13! Send your child for one week-long session or sign up for the last three. The themes for the next three weeks are: July 29-August 2, Wild Weather; August 5-9, Space Rover; August 12-16, What Bugs You. Call 973.596.6637 or email campnewarkmuseum@newarkmuseum,org for more information.
Museum Musings by Amanda
This past Thursday I was inspired at Jazz in the Garden. Really, I’m more into pop music and light rock. I love Maroon 5 and Gavin DeGraw; but, Ulysses Owens Jr. and the quartet of musicians on stage were actually quite delightful despite the temperature reaching nearly 100 degrees. In the shade of the garden at the Newark Museum, I felt very relaxed listening to ‘Yellow Bird’, a song which captivated the audience with its changing rhythm. Right before the piece, the drummer, Mr. Owens Jr., introduced the piece by telling the audience to imagine themselves on a paradise island. I did. I felt the cool ocean breeze and the condensation dripping down my hand; a hand that I imagined was holding a strawberry margarita (non-alcoholic, of course; and it was probably just sweat). The melody was light, relaxing and calming. I soon forgot the stresses of everyday—cooking for company for the weekend, cleaning the house in preparation, and my least favorite chore…laundry. But, the jazz was soothing and allowed me to eat my lunch in peace. Even as I write this, I am listening to the Jazz Pandora station I recently created, based on the trumpeter Tatum Greenblatt. I’m looking forward to making a Jazz mix CD for my car. My grandfather would be so proud.
July 17th, the day preceding last week’s Jazz concert, marked the calendar as one month exactly since my start date as an intern at the Newark Museum. In just one month, I’ve grown more passionate about different types of art—the mediums on which they’re produced, the genre, the color palettes, the sound—and also realized that I want to work in an environment dedicated to cultivating others’ passions and curiosities. I really owe the museum big-time for the exposure it’s given me as my time here becomes noticeably shorter–without which I would be stressed, uninterested in expanding my musical horizons, and bored of the same 50 tracks that constantly play when I listen to my iPod. Z100, bite the dust; I’ve got a new station to listen to…88.3 Jazz FM.
Nano: The Science of the Super Small
It is fitting that the Newark Museum has an exhibit showcasing the magic of nano technology and its real world applications. Often overshadowed by its bigger, more effulgent Manhattan neighbors, the Newark Museum is an under-appreciated gem. Similarly, nano technology often goes unrecognized for its important contributions to daily life in the face of newer and “cooler” technological advances in areas like aerospace engineering or computer science. In recognizing the underrated importance of nano technology in our everyday lives, we indirectly give the Newark Museum the respect and esteem it deserves. By heavily engaging the visitor with a single broad topic, the visitor leaves the Museum with an experience that is memorable because of the creative presentation of the content and the skillful flow of the layout.
On one of the display posters, “atom by atom” was a phrase used to describe the way nano technology works. That is as much the way nano technology works as it is the way the seven “play and learn stations,” as I call them, are set up. Each successive station builds on the previous to add another layer of awesome application in a new example of nano technology. My favorite station was the ferrofluid-magnet station. I used strong magnets to lift up small floating iron particles, called ferrofluid, which repeatedly congealed and then broke apart. In anticipation of a larger audience—comprised of kids and adults (remember, parents can have fun, too!)—there are three iron magnet stations to accommodate more players. Other stations engage the visitor with different knobs to spin, lights to turn on, and blocks to balance.
The cherry on top is that you end up learning a lot without even realizing it! The literature on the plaques and posters are full of information but do not overwhelm. The nitty-gritty science terminology is put into simpler terms and synthesized into concise blasts of information. By explaining the relationship between nature and technology, the exhibit made me curious about more natural phenomena that science imitates. Just 15 minutes spent playing at the Nano exhibit made me want to learn more. Instilling curiosity in the visitor and whetting the visitor’s appetite to learn more is one of the main goals of the museum. Founding director John Cotton Dana says pithily: “A good museum attracts, entertains, arouses curiosity, leads to questioning and thus promotes learning” (newarkmuseum.org/about). The nano exhibit is a perfect example; Mr. Dana would be very proud.
-Amanda Schwartz, Summer 2013 Public Relations Intern
Hello readers of the Newark Museum blog! I’m Amanda, a summer intern at the museum. I’ll be posting here sometimes about my adventures around the galleries and all the fun stuff going on here over the next few months. I encourage you to respond to the polls that I will be posting along with my blogs–we love hearing what you have to say and your feedback helps us improve our game!
I felt a bit underdressed walking through the Teapot Collection today! Surrounded by the dozens of teapots of different shapes, sizes and colors made me feel as if I needed to be wearing a more suitable dress to wear to an afternoon tea. The almost-tangible pink taffeta dress that John Singleton Copley painted in Portrait of Mrs. Joseph Scott (hanging in the Early American Portrait Gallery) would be perfect, if only it were real. But perhaps the Ballantine ladies’ closets could be available for some scavenging and borrowing. Please, curator Ulysses?
The Trumpeter teapot (China, for the Dutch market; Porcelain, enamel, 1750-60) caught my attention because of the depicted musician’s bright yellow garb, his deeply expressive face, and by the fact that the musician is actively playing the instrument, not merely holding it. A teapot is often associated with inaction and relaxation, women and domesticity, and purity and natural beauty. This “exotic” teapot, in contrast, is actually the complete antithesis of these preconceived notions. By capturing the essence of what the consumer is not, this teapot might serve one of two purposes: it could be the mode for a fantastical escape from domesticity or a subtle affirmation of one’s superiority over the “exotic” other. The design itself resists the classic context of the teapot, namely of a party of parlor ladies gossiping about their dramatic domestic lives, by depicting a man as the main figure on the art, who is captured during his action of playing music, on a black background. Therefore this “exotic” teapot, could invoke either feelings of resentment at the strictures of a genteel life or feelings of amusement over the oddities of the unfamiliar depending on the consumer’s level of contentment and satisfaction with the domestic lifestyle.
The wonderful thing about any museum is its unique capability to act as a time machine (without a flux-capacitor, nonetheless!) and transport the visitor to different time periods and cultures. Simply by looking at the porcelain Trumpeter teapot I felt as if I were a Dutch lady indulging in an “exotic” fantasy of a faraway land filled with young, handsome musicians. I highly encourage everyone to come explore the Newark Museum’s wonderful and rich collection of Decorative Arts to indulge in their own fantasies. But remember…dress to impress!