School at the Museum, a pilot project that reinvents school
A collaborative project of the Marguerite-Bourgeoys school board and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
How can an art museum contribute to the school of tomorrow? By making creativity and cultural objects central to the students’ learning experience, in addition to offering a more open and more collaborative learning environment. These are the aims of School at the Museum, the brand new pilot project by the Marguerite-Bourgeoys school board (CSMB) and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA). Once a week, from January 31 until May 1, the Museum is hosting three preschool and elementary school classes. This educational program offers teachers the opportunity to teach the compulsory curriculum at the MMFA, while benefiting from access to its collection, material resources, instructional tools and specialists.
Since January 2019, a kindergarten class from Guy-Drummond school and two grade 6 classes from Bois-Franc-Aquarelle school have been taking part in the pilot project. Teachers from the two schools bring their classes to the Museum for one day a week over an eight-week period. They spend the entire day there, making it an extension of sorts of their school. The students work on various subjects in the curriculum, either with their teacher or in collaboration with the Museum’s professionals.
In introducing this innovative project, the Museum is seeking to strengthen its ties with the school community and provide support while encouraging students’ progress and academic success. It opens the doors to its exhibitions and its collections so students can take advantage of a setting that offers myriad possibilities and an environment conducive to active learning, with a focus on each student’s full potential. The project goes beyond a simple educational activity at a museum.
The benefits of this collaborative project between school and museum will be documented and assessed by Professor Anik Meunier, director of the research group on education and museums at the Université du Québec à Montréal, and Marie-Ève Dion, master’s student in museum studies.
The future of School at the Museum, from preschool to university
Following the initial success of the pilot project, School at the Museum will also include classes from the Commission scolaire de Montréal (CSDM) next year. But the presence of students at the MMFA is not limited solely to the preschool and elementary levels. For the past year, the Museum has welcomed a class from Dawson College one day a week, and there are similar partnerships with Concordia University, which holds art therapy courses on site, and UQAM’s faculty of arts, which uses space at the Museum for its teaching activities.