As evidenced by our Educational Programs and Listing collection, guides, maps, lectures and courses have been at the forefront of the Museum’s educational program since it opened to the public in the early 1870’s.
One of the earliest guides from 1875 takes visitors through the Museum’s pottery and porcelain collection. A 1923 children’s program, Story-hours for members’children, has a lively roster of over twenty stories told to children with whimsical titles including “Winged caps and Wooden Shoes” and “Boys and Girls of Sun-Bright Spain”.
Today, the Nolen Library greets thousands of children a year, six days a week for “Storytime,”conducted by staff members from across the museum, who read books that range from childhood classics such as, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle, to books about art, including Magritte’s Marvelous Hat, a Picture Book by D.B. Johnson and Vincent Colors: Words and Pictures by Vincent Van Gogh.
A most unusual guide is Food and visual culture at the Metropolitan of Art, a clever gallery itinerary suggesting objects with culinary themes including the production, consumption and service of food of different periods and cultures. For example, it includes a discussion of Edward Hopper’s Tables for Ladies and how the enticing fruit displayed in the window of the restaurant is in contrast to the reticence of the diners.
In addition to guides, there are also a number of family maps in the Digital Collections, including the most recent map illustrated by celebrated cartoonist, John Kerschbaum.
A poster puzzle, Kerschbaum’s award winning guide is a depiction of all the museum galleries with over five hundred objects that are currently on display rendered cartoon-style with visual humor. According to Kerschbaum, the detailed map took him fours years to complete. It was drafted on paper with ink and white out, then scanned and colored on the computer. The actual size is 19” x 24” on Bristol board.
Last year, the Nolen Library and Teen programs invited John Kerschbaum to the Museum for an “ARText” event to lead a workshop for teens. Kerschbaum discussed his experiences as an illustrator, after which teens visited the galleries and created their own illustrations of works of art that they saw.
This final image, appearing in a 1913 museum supplement to the Bulletin titled, The Museum and the Schools, is a rare glimpse of school children visiting the galleries accompanied by an essay, “If I Were You: A Museum Romance.”
The anecdote, written by a teacher from Missouri, recounts her experiences at the Met which are filled with praise. She writes: “. . . my docent – was an indefatigable lady, refined and cordial, full of information on art, artists and curios . . . once you have seen this friendly docent, who seems eager to function, full of the feeling that she has intrusted to her riches that ought to be used, you see, when a piece of museum literature drifts your way, shining eyes of an invitation, and outstretched hands of welcome behind it . . . But chiefly we have learned that the museum and all it holds and stands for is ours” (found on page 9).
The same 1913 publication also contains reports and updates on educational programs, including this uplifting one: “Last year more teachers and their classes visited the Museum than ever before, and it is hoped that still more may come this year. The Museum desires to be of real service to this class of visitors, and to make every effort through its Instructor, class room, and lectures to meet the needs of all who find its collections helpful in teaching.”
All of this material can be found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art Libraries collection.