The Anchorage Museum’s education department seeks to inspire learners of all ages in creative and critical thinking and in making, centered around Alaska and the North. We believe that teaching and learning at the Anchorage Museum can shape our community and our world with self-awareness and inclusivity.
Each year, the Museum offers a rich set of education materials and programs for over 10,000 children, teachers and adults, including filed trips, curriculum, teacher training, art classes, lectures, cultural activities, free days, docent-led tours, toddler classes, and more.
Additionally, the Museum Education Department provides innovative summer camp offerings each year. With the onset of COVID-19, the museum quickly pivoted to provide the summer camp that local youth know and love in a new, engaging virtual format.
This summer the Education Department provided 7 successful weeks of virtual summer camps. Campers received material kits in advance and joined daily Zoom meetings facilitated by at least two educators. In these gatherings, participants made friends, played games, and received instructions for the day's activities. Campers then used the provided materials to engage in mostly screen-free learning.
This first foray into virtual learning was immensely successful.
The museum ultimately filled 309 total registrations, serving 149 individuals over 5 week-long camps. One of these camps received funding from the Alaska State Council on the Arts, allowing the museum to pay 3 local artists to co-facilitate and cover unique materials for making.
The museum ran two concurrent sessions of virtual camp, one for Migrant Education and one for the general public. Migrant Education filled 218 registrations. Families who are clients of Refugee Assistance and Immigration Services also represented at least 8 of the camp registrations. The museum was able to offer 11 full scholarships to summer camps.
Feedback form community partners representing vulnerable communities shared that these camps were more accessible and possible for participating families due to flexible timing, delivery of instruction in multiple formats, and no need for transportation.
This first foray set the tone for virtual learning moving forward. Both museum staff and participants are convinced of the potential of virtual and blended models to provide accessible, quality education moving forward. As one guardian said:
Please keep doing more! I was convinced that virtual teaching is possible thanks to this opportunity. If you had painting or drawing lessons in a similar format we would be thrilled. THANK YOU VERY MUCH! This was an excellent camp, excellently done.
Anchorage Museum education programs are made possible through the generous support of companies, foundations and individuals who want to ensure that all students have access to Museum educational resources and opportunities that expand perspectives and ignite curiosity.