Student Board Will Help Connect Art Museums, Students

UPDATED: March 26, 2014, at 1:00 a.m.

In preparation for its reopening this fall, the Harvard Art Museums will create a student advisory board composed of graduate and undergraduate students to serve as its connection to the student body.

The board, which will meet monthly beginning at the end of this semester, is one of many initiatives the newly consolidated museums will roll out to reinstate their presence on campus and increase student participation in coming months before the November reopening. Specifically, the board will publicize Harvard Art Museums events and help disseminate knowledge about the museums broadly throughout the Harvard student population.

Jessica L. Martinez, the director of Academic and Public Programs at the Harvard Art Museums, said the museums are particularly interested in hearing about student life. The division supports students and faculty through teaching and learning opportunities, and also plans a range of programs for both members of the Harvard community and the public.

Martinez said that the student board and other outreach initiatives aim to capture the energy of the student body to create something of a start-up atmosphere in the museums.

For students, many of whom have never been inside the museums’ flagship facility on Quincy Street, which closed in 2008, the initiatives offer a way to interact with the museums not previously available.

“It’s hard to participate any less at this moment,” said Isaac C. Dayno ’15, a history of art and architecture concentrator, who participated in the focus groups in the fall of 2013 that brainstormed what students would like to see at the museums’ opening.

“The opening of the museums will be a total paradigm shift in student participation,” Dayno said, reflecting on what he said was inaccessibility of the collection on campus. Since the closure of the Fogg Museum in 2008, students have had access to view the collections off-site, but the newly renovated and expanded building will create a place for students, faculty, and the public to encounter some of the more than 250,000 pieces owned by the museums.

Along with the student board, the Harvard Art Museums will initiate other programs to encourage education through the collections. One such program will train Harvard undergraduates to give tours of the museums to friends, colleagues, and public audiences.

The museums will also train graduate students, primarily history of art and architecture students and students from the Graduate School of Education, to teach school groups in the renovated facility using objects from the collections. The graduate students trained through the program will work closely with teachers from Cambridge Rindge and Latin School on developing art education.

—Staff writer Emma C. Cobb can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @emmaccobb.