By Lauren Peller
Art has always been a passion of mine. Whether I am studying art history or sketching for fun, I appreciate what an art museum can offer for a community. Right in our backyard, in Huntington, the Heckscher Museum of Art provides local Long Islanders and visitors with interesting, varied exhibitions and educational art programming. Nestled in the Heckscher Park, known for its greenery, ponds, and playgrounds, Heckscher Museum showcases a permanent collection, including over 2,000 works of art, as well as noted traveling exhibits. With its vision on education in the arts, the Museum strives to provide a learning experience that will engage and motivate students in the community.
With a recommendation from Mrs. Uttendorfer, I had the rewarding and enriching opportunity to work as an intern in the education department at the Heckscher Museum this summer. As part of my responsibilities, I worked with the Museum educators to lead workshops and to incorporate fun ways for children to become familiar with the Museum and its artwork. For example, I led entertaining scavenger hunts at the Museum so that the children could readily grasp facts about many art forms and the backgrounds of the artists who created the pieces. The Heckscher education department partnered with Park Shore Day Camp in a new program called STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math), which allowed campers to participate in classes that combined art projects with various topics in science. Along with the Museum’s education department, I was able to develop projects and prepare art materials that targeted age appropriate science concepts. It was gratifying to be able to see a project come to fruition and to see the campers have a great time while enhancing their knowledge. Surprisingly, my favorite project was one called “Art Bot”, which included a battery operated toothbrush and acted as a robot to create abstract drawings. I tested and developed the implementation plan after seeing a similar project on Pinterest, and it proved to be one of the most popular projects of the summer with children of all ages.
My experience this summer at the Heckscher Art Museum was extremely fulfilling, and it enabled me to strengthen my collaborative, creative, and organizational skills. While the Museum and its staff were welcoming and supportive, they also challenged me to brainstorm and design projects that would be feasible and educational. I learned that the art museums, especially the Heckscher which places a strong emphasis on art and education, have so much to offer people of all ages and backgrounds. From programming that focuses on children to those afflicted with Alzheimer’s, the Museum offers something for everyone and should be regarded as a treasured resource in our community for lifelong learning. According to Joy Weiner, Education Director, “the hands-on internship opportunity allows students to engage with programs at the museum and broadens their awareness as they make career choices.” If you are interested in exploring the many things the Museum can offer, check out the Heckscher Art Museum, and you may be surprised when you discover that seeing art in person will deliver an inspiring experience.
Photo courtesy of Heckscher Art Museum on Facebook