Thursday, March 09, 2017

Museum Hack Tour - Art Institute Chicago

My wife Jen and I had the pleasure of participating in a tour of the Art Institute Chicago lead by a company called Museum Hack. Museum Hack leads "renegade" museum tours (currently in NYC, DC, San Francisco, and Chicago) that are engaging, interactive, and entertaining! As a visual arts teacher, married to a former visual arts teacher, I was intrigued by how Museum Hack would take the Art Institute and "hack" it for our tour group.

Our tour guide's name was Elise, and she was very friendly and welcoming. We met our group in the museum's main stairway entrance (after buying our tickets and checking our coats), and were given name tags. There was a group of eight adults, not counting our tour guide. This was awesome for me because it was easy to remember who was in my group, and to follow the group through the museum.

The Art Institute is HUGE. Our two-hour tour was a whirlwind sample buffet of artworks throughout time and cultures. Elise delighted in telling us all about the "saucy" details of Rococo art, and the epic "comic book" panels of St John the Baptist, including a ridiculous and gratuitously bloody beheading scene:

Mrs. Leban & I chose this painting as our favorite in the series.
Elise called them the worlds first comic book.
A good half of the tour is finding out interesting facts and little-known/fun trivia bits about different pieces in the museum, and the other half was interactive - we participated in a variety of games and fun discussions about the artworks.

Of course, our tour included Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat, where we all had our Ferris Bueller moment staring at the various subjects within the landscape, and selecting our favorites:


Elise pointed out this little figure shaped like a keyhole. I was fascinated with all of the dots that have fallen off over the years.
One of our interactive moments included a game in a smaller gallery where we selected furniture and decorative items for Elise's fictional "housewarming" party for rich people. We got to select an item from the gallery that we would bring for her new house. Then we hilariously tried to connect them together ("Ohh that bowl would look great on the table Jen picked! And we could hang Todd's creepy painting above it!").

Another fun game was had in the sculpture gallery where we were tasked with choosing a sculpture that represented our "spirit animal." My wife and I chose one for each other. She suggested I have an epic beard-off with this guy:

Elise took polaroids of us with our sculptures, and we got to take them home as souvenirs. We also wrote postcards about our experience that would be sent later on.

We went over to the modern wing, and it was no surprise to me that we stopped at every kid's, and my favorite sculpture in the entire museum:

This piece is called Untitled (Portrait of Ross in L.A.) by Félix González-Torres. Yes, you get to actually participate in the piece by taking and eating candy. In the museum. It's always funny because people are so trained to NOT touch the artwork, or to get too close, that it feels taboo to actually take and eat candy! I found a fun article here all about where the candy comes from and how it gets refilled.

To finish the tour, we ended up in the reconstructed interior of the Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room, where we learned about the laborious practice of one dedicated man who rescued and preserved the architectural elements of this room, originally designed by Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler. We were also asked to share a picture of one item from the museum that we would bring to a party. My suggestion was voted the winner and I walked away with a souvenir sticker book of abstract painter, Wassily Kandinsky.
In the end, this got me thinking about how much a teacher can learn from this tour: how easy it can be to engage a group of students by simply making them get up out of their seats and physically mimic an image or concept, or by having them choose an item from a whole grouping and explain their choices.

But most of all, by not taking any of this too seriously, we were able to relax and have fun, and probably retained way more information about works of art than any other prior visit. Without even trying!


I really enjoyed my Museum Hack tour, and if you are in a city that Museum Hack conducts tours in, I highly recommend going on one! Museum Hack offers general tours (like the one I went on), but they also offer private/family tours, tours for parties, and team-building adventures! Can you even imagine, a professional development activity like this? I can.

Mr. Leban

Monday, March 06, 2017

D304 Art Highlight - Wood Cutout

Wood Cutout by Lauren F., grade 7.
Success! This positive/negative space wood cutout was designed and cut by Lauren F., from 6th period Applied Art. It measures 7 1/4" x 10" and was cut with a coping saw. Students used a hand drill to make holes in the corners of the negative space. The blade of the saw is removed and replaced after it is fed through the board. Students move the board and saw often to cut out the negative spaces, leaving only their design.

Mr. Leban

Monday, February 27, 2017

D304Art Highlight - Copic Markers



Special thanks to @mattbrun from @copicmarker for sharing some marker technique with Brooks art students today. #ArtEd #gbmsart #oakpark97
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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Room D304 Art Highlight - Animation Critiques


Today was animation critique day. Students travelled through the classroom watching the movies of their peers. They were asked to critique 4 animations of classmates not at their table. The feedback included "one thing you did well", and "one thing I might change". For fun, we voted for top animations in 3 student driven categories: Best animation, Most Original Story, & Smoothest Animation.

Friday, November 04, 2016

Room D304 Art Highlight - Trading Cards


Trading cards for inspirational people. These digital trading cards were created by students in D304 about people that they find inspiring. We used the @autodesksketchbook app from @autodesk to create the portrait, the info card, and to compile them both in the same image These examples were created by (clockwise from the upper left) Maya L., gr8, Danielle A., gr8, Grecian W., gr8, and Abby W., gr6. #ArtEdTech #gbmsart #D97art #oakpark97 #ArtEd

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Room D304 Art Highlight - Slayer!!!


SLAYER!!! Owen A., grade 8, went above and beyond on his inspirational portrait. His attention to detail shows his investment and connection to Kerry King and the importance of his music. #ArtEd #gbmsart #D97art #oakpark97

Friday, October 14, 2016

Room D304 Art Highlight - Inspirational People Portraits



These portraits are of people that my students find inspiring. They were created on the Sketchbook app for iOS. Clockwise from top left, the young artists are Alex M - grade 6, Jolie K - grade 6, Aliyah D - grade 8, Sam D - grade 6. #ArtEd #oakpark97 #D97art #gbmsart

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Room D304 Art Highlight - About Me


Kylie and Violet, grade 6, share the things important to them by using symbols in these colorful collages. #gbmsart #D97art #oakpark97 #ArtEd
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Friday, September 16, 2016

Room D304 Art Highlight

From concept to completion, here is an "About Me" artwork from Mike D., grade 6. Students listed things of utmost importance to them, and were asked to represent them with symbols. #ArtEd #OakPark97
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Thursday, September 01, 2016

Room D304 Art Highlight

This drawing is from Ben G., grade 8. We discussed composition, and students began to surround their names with the symbols from their "important things" list. #ArtEd #OakPark97 #D97art #gbmsart
via IFTTT