This double issue of the newsletter is brimming with information
about program initiatives. The flurry of activity is the result of the
generous two-year grant the National Literacy Secretariat awarded the
program in the fall of 1997. It will enable "Reading The Museum"
to support new demonstration projects, build on previous work and
pursue other activities, including producing
A competition for demonstration projects was held recently
a jury of museum and literacy professionals awarded grants to five
museums. The recipients are the New Brunswick Museum in Saint John,
New Brunswick; the Centre national d'exposition in Jonquière,
Québec; the London Regional Art and Historical Museums in
In addition to the five projects that were awarded grants, the program is supporting two other projects that are building on previous initiatives. The Edmonton Art Gallery is working with Prospects Literacy Association, following upon their successful collaboration in 1995-96 that resulted in the highly regarded publication Blue Ink in My Pen.This time, an audioguide is being developed that will introduce visitors to the gallery. Art historian, critic and writer Reesa Greenberg is working with a group of adult learners, some of whom are now regular gallery visitors, as a result of their participation in the initial literacy project. They will be assisted by education curator Marie Lopes and writing instructor Don Trembath.
The second project focuses on a remarkable collection of family albums at the McCord Museum in Montreal. The albums are intended to provide learners with inspiration and to be a resource for speaking and writing. The project will consist of a series of two-hour sessions over a six- to eight-week period. The project coordinator is photography curator and writer Martha Langford. She will work with two groups of learners, one French speaking, one English-speaking, affiliated with several literacy programs in the Montreal area. Among other things, the projects at the McCord Museum and the Edmonton Art Gallery will make it possible to compare different approaches to literacy that recognize the importance of oral communication, in addition to encouraging reading and writing. Look for articles about these projects in future issues of the newsletter.
Work is also beginning on a video about the "Reading The Museum" program to demonstrate how museums are a resource for literacy. The McCord project will be featured, as will a women's group involved in another project at the Edmonton Art Gallery that grew out of its initial literacy collaboration. Following up on his visit last year, noted American documentary filmmaker George Stoney will also turn his camera on Edmonton in connection with the six-hour video series he is preparing on the work and influence of renowned literacy educator Paulo Freire.
As the program carries out its activities, it tries to keep abreast of other projects that advance literacy in and through museums. This newsletter includes an account of a recent exhibition at the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal consisting of a selection of works from the permanent collection in the form of a literacy lesson. Reports and
articles about other initiatives are always welcome.
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