Archive for the 'Programs' Category

An Eventful Summer

Curator Sara Arnold and intern Amanda Breen, in front of Gibbes Street Party festivities.

When I arrived in Charleston in May after two days and just over a thousand miles in the car, I wasn’t completely sure of what I was getting myself into. A new city, a new work experience, and new people to meet was exciting, but also a little terrifying. Looking back over the three months I spent as the Media Relations/Communications intern at the Gibbes Museum, I’m happy to report that Charleston, the Gibbes, and all the people I have worked with and met have truly made this an unforgettable experience!

When I decided to go back to school for a certificate in museum studies, almost two years after completing my undergraduate degree, I never would have imagined I would end up in Charleston, SC. I had always heard wonderful things about the city, so as my final semester approached I began doing a little research on the museums in the area where I might be able to apply for an internship. The Gibbes Museum caught my attention right away, not only for its collection and exhibitions, but for its unique history and true commitment to South Carolina’s artistic heritage. Since I wasn’t able to visit and interview with the museum in person, I spoke on the phone with Marla Loftus, the Director of Museum Relations, who offered me the position of Media Relations/Communications Intern for the summer. I knew this would be a great opportunity to learn about and participate in the marketing and events departments of a museum. My second day at the Gibbes, the museum hosted its annual Street Party, a fabulous and exciting way to kick off my internship and the summer. Shutting down one of the busiest streets in Charleston, amazing food, and great entertainment is probably not the norm after less that 48 hours at a new position, but I wasn’t going to complain!

Over the past three months, I’ve had a chance to work with a variety of people within the museum, but have primarily assisted the Director of Museum Relations. From posting press releases online, to fulfilling donation requests and organizing media coverage of the museum and its programs, I’ve enjoyed getting to know the museum and Charleston from an insider’s perspective. One of my favorite parts of this internship was being included in almost every meeting that the Director of Museum Relations attended, which gave me a better understanding and appreciation for how much planning goes into promoting the museum and the importance of community relationships and allowed me to meet some wonderful people in Charleston’s cultural community. If I’ve learned anything from this internship, it’s that the time spent cultivating partnerships with media outlets and sponsors is essential to the success of a museum.

I’ve also spent a lot of time working with the Program and Events Manager. Almost immediately after the sidewalks were swept following the Street Party, planning began on the next fundraising event, Bitters and Twisted in the Salon d’Orleans. Timed to coincide with the opening of one of the new exhibitions In Search of Julien Hudson: Free Artist of Color in Pre-Civil War New Orleans, this event was organized by the Gibbes’ young professionals auxiliary group, Society 1858. I assisted with everything from researching options for hand-held fans to helping with set up on the day of the event. It’s impossible to understand the amount of time and dedication that goes into planning an event such as this unless you are involved with the preparations. Performers and caterers don’t magically appear the night of the event, poised and ready for a couple hundred guests. Months of research and decisions go into making the night so memorable and successful. I have a deeper appreciation for anyone that plans programs and events and I know I will be able to apply the experiences I’ve had this summer at the Gibbes in my professional career.

This internship at the Gibbes Museum has given me the confidence to begin a career in the museum and art world. I’ve learned and participated in more than I ever imagined I would and have enjoyed being a part of this amazing team!

Amanda Breen, Media Relations/Communications Summer Intern, Gibbes Museum of Art

Experience a Summer of Fun with the Gibbes!

Summer is here and we are excited to welcome back many familiar faces to the Gibbes Summer Art Camp, including our teacher Sally Collins. A long-time Gibbes teaching artist, this is Sally’s second year teaching summer camp. She does an outstanding job with the children, combining hands-on projects with art history. Each week-long session focuses on a theme and this year we will look at “Portraits,” “Charleston Artists Past and Present,” and “Charleston Architecture.” Children will end each week with a mini exhibit of their work for their parents to enjoy. I recently spoke with several parents whose children have enjoyed camp in previous years and wanted to share their comments, as well as some great images of campers having fun.

My son Gray has attended the Gibbes art camp for the last three years. I continue to be thrilled and amazed by the superior art instruction he receives and the quality work that is created. Each year he has produced a beautiful portfolio of work that reflects the skills he gained in painting, drawing and print-making in just one week. The Gibbes art camp provides a lively learning environment that inspires creativity and instills a true love of process. Student access to original works of art within the museum is an added bonus. My son returned from camp each day talking about a different artist or painting from the Gibbes collection and the particular techniques employed. Not confined to the classroom, the camp also offers the opportunity to create art against Charleston’s historic backdrop. My son has always been interested in art; this camp provides a wonderful opportunity for him to measurably improve his abilities. —Zinnia Willits


Our daughter Adriana has enjoyed tremendously the Gibbes Summer Art Camps. She attended all of the sessions last summer and brought back home a diverse portfolio of artwork. As a parent and an educator, I appreciated the quality of the work my child was exposed to and was grateful for the enthusiasm of the instructors. Each day, I looked forward to the new projects Adriana brought home and I know she was proud to share them with us. —Anna Ballinger

I hope to see you this summer. If you are interested in getting more information or registering your child please call or email me at 843-722-2706 ext. 41 or rsailor@gibbesmuseum.org or you can download our registration form on our website.

—Rebecca Sailor, Associate Curator of Education, Gibbes Museum of Art

The Role of Museum Professional Organizations

The museum profession is constantly changing. New standards for collections care, exhibition design, curatorial research, digitization of information, use of social media, educational programming, membership tracking, and every other aspect of museum work are being discussed daily on list-servs, blogs, and at various gatherings of museum professionals. Museum staff need high levels of knowledge and expertise to continue to add value to the communities they serve. Conferences and relevant workshops provide opportunities for peer engagement, expansion of one’s knowledge base, and information that can be put into practice immediately. In South Carolina, one important resource for professional development opportunities is the South Carolina Federation of Museums (SCFM), founded in 1970. Today, SCFM continues to support its mission to serve, represent, advocate, and promote the best interests of South Carolina museums through professional development, public relations, advocacy, and other services.

Image: Disaster Training for Museum Collections

Participants encounter wet art at the 2008 SCFM workshop, Disaster Training for Museum Collections.

For the past year I have served as Chair of the SCFM Professional Development Committee (PDC). Each year, this Committee plans the Federation’s annual conference. I worked with a group of eight individuals from museums and historic sites across the state to organize the two-day event. As many people know, volunteer committee work can be interesting, challenging and rewarding. An assortment of people who do not know each other well are expected to quickly figure out their strengths, weaknesses, and working styles to accomplish big goals. The PDC Committee met four times over the course of the year to plan the conference. Efficiency, open communication and the ability to adapt were essential during the planning process. I learned so much about leadership, group dynamics, and how to delegate instead of micro-manage. While there are aspects of committee work in my position at the Gibbes, event planning was new territory for me. I took every opportunity to ask questions and learn from others even though I was technically in charge.

The conference occurred in March in Columbia, South Carolina and offered an array of educational sessions, workshops, tours and networking events around the theme, Museums Matter. A session called Group Think: The South Carolina Experiment was a new addition to the 2011 conference. The idea came from the American Association of Museum’s Center for the Future of Museums (CFM), an organization that facilitates creative discussions and events to assist museums in “transcending traditional boundaries to serve society in new ways.” One of CFM’s projects is called Voices of the Future, an international, interdisciplinary discussion about the future of museums and society in which a series of questions are posed and the answers shared via YouTube.

We decided to try this type of informal discussion that allowed participants to interact while considering the future of the profession. We had close to fifty people attend the session. Participants were grouped by their positions (curators, educators, development and membership coordinators, administrators, etc.) and asked to consider three questions about the future of museums. The resulting discussions were lively and interesting. Educators were particularly animated while curators had quiet, thoughtful conversations. Registrars were (of course) very organized with their answers and administrators focused on broad themes that will impact all future museums. Below are the questions and a recap of the answers that resulted from Group Think.

Image: Group Think Workshop

South Carolina Museum Professionals discuss the future of museums during the Group Think session.


#1. What are the most important trends in society that will shape museums in the next 25 years?

All groups noted that technology was a major trend which will shape the future of museums. Educators also highlighted the lack of public financing and teacher accountability/student achievement as factors that will impact their role in museums. Administrators focused on nostalgia as a future trend. Curators discussed the effect of a global economy, social networking, and a museum’s ability to offer different points of access to its holdings as influential factors. The marketing group talked about technology and advertising opportunities, and registrars highlighted environmental awareness as a trend that will continue to effect museums and collections.

#2. What is the role of virtual vs. real in museums of today and of the future?

Participants recognized that virtual experiences should continue to be used as a means to generate interest in viewing the real thing (painting, artifact, specimen, etc.). Educators noted that online activities are useful tools for supplementing museum experiences while administrators pointed out that they do exclude some demographics. Curators discussed how the virtual experiences allow broad access to museum collections and noted diverse delivery methods are also beneficial. Marketing professionals felt that local history should be used to make connections in a larger context. Registrars focused on how virtual access to original artifacts might evolve in the future.

#3. What is the future of the economics of running and supporting a museum?

Partnerships were a common theme during this discussion. Those seated at the education table stressed alternative revenue streams such as facility rentals but noted the possible impacts on a museum’s programs and mission. Administrators discussed the need to diversify funding and reduce dependence on government support and grants. Curators talked about grass roots advocacy and strategies to actively demonstrate a museum’s value to the community it serves. Marketers highlighted the need to cultivate 20–40 year olds (“grow” future donors) and position museums as a gathering place with consistent, appealing programming. Registrars focused on the need for a clear, organized plan for any project that requires additional funds.

To close the session, the entire group discussed what had been learned. Attendees agreed that the current cultural majority will change over the next twenty-five years. Museums should continue to monitor and acknowledge the changes and adapt accordingly. It was also noted that young professionals will be essential to providing input and bridging the gap between past museum philosophies and expectations of future audiences. Overall, those that attended Group Think found the experience beneficial and asked for future opportunities, virtual or real, to continue these discussions. The afternoon provided food for thought on how we can be more effective in our jobs, improve our institutions, strengthen the field and communicate the value of our museum in the future.

While my year as PDC Chair is coming to a close, I will continue to be actively involved with the South Carolina Federation of Museums and other professional museum groups. I have organized a workshop called Leadership Training for Museums Professionals which will be held in Charleston this week (May 11) and I am looking forward to presenting a session at the 2011 American Association of Museums Annual Meeting in Houston. Later this year, I will also be present a session at the Southeastern Museums Conference in Greenville, SC. The Gibbes Museum of Art has been extremely supportive of my involvement in professional organizations and I hope to continue to represent the Gibbes, Charleston, and the South Carolina at museum conferences at the state, regional, and national levels.

Zinnia Willits, Director of Collections Administration, Gibbes Museum of Art

Intern Perspective: Planning and Promoting Happenings at the Gibbes

Since January, I have been gifted with the opportunity to intern behind the scenes at the Gibbes. Before my internship began, I was not sure of what I was getting myself into. Of course my mind went to the two extremes: I would either be licking envelopes and getting coffee or I would be overwhelmed with tough work and little explanation. Instead, I have had an entirely different experience working as the Museum Relations intern for the past four months. I felt welcomed from day one and have truly enjoyed working with the small staff who are able to keep the successful museum flourishing.

Although I am from Rye, New York, I have grown up spending tons of my time in Charleston with both my immediate and my extended family and have always considered this amazing city my second home. I am a junior at the College of Charleston double majoring in Art History and Communication. Two summers ago I had the opportunity to work with Rebecca Sailor, the Associate Curator of Education, helping her with the Gibbes Summer Art Camp. That experience showed me what a great connection the museum truly had with its surrounding community. Last Fall, when I was considering taking on an internship during the school year my uncle and local artist, John Dunnan, suggested I apply to the Gibbes. Right away, I knew this was a brilliant idea and after meeting with Marla Loftus and Lasley Steever, I was thrilled to accept the position. Although I have interned at the museum before, the experience offered with the Public Relations and Event Planning departments seemed like an opportunity I should not refuse. I was told I would have a very hands-on position and learn both simple and complex tasks that would be beneficial in the long run.

The models' finalé walk on the Flirting with Art runway.

For the past four months I have been able to assist with Public Relations, Event Planning, and Social Media for the Gibbes. I have been fortunate to learn so much about several different things that are involved with all of these jobs. From posting press releases and managing PR mentions to planning parties and posting tweets, there is always something to get done. One of my favorite events that I was lucky enough to be a part of was Flirting with Art in February. I enjoyed helping organize and plan this extravagant and modern runway show and loved being there to experience all of the hard work put into action. It was exhilarating watching the process while local artists interpreted the art of modern painters with a mix of styles using the human body as the canvas.

Recently, I was able to get involved with the opening of open two new exhibitions commemorating the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War: A Soldier’s View of Civil War Charleston and Stephen Marc: Passage on the Underground Railroad. The extraordinary connections I have seen made between the permanent collection and the the temporary exhibitions has been awe-inspiring. I love working with people who share my passion for both art and education and hope that the Gibbes Museum will continue to thrive in this historical and artistic city. I have enjoyed my experience here at the Gibbes that has been filled with both learning and excitement and I hope to keep a close connection with all of the staff and members for a long time to come!

Clay Dunnan, Museum Relations Intern, January through May 2011

Bank of America Helps the Gibbes Make a Difference


North Charleston Elementary School visited the Gibbes Museum of Art on November 16th, 17th and 18th. The students were able to come for free because of the Title I Goes to the Gibbes grant funded by Bank of America. The grant provides free admission for any Title I school in the tri-county area. Elise Detterbeck, aka Ms. Elise, was one of the Museum Educators that led the fifth grade students on a guided tour of the galleries. The students graciously sent thank you notes after their visit and I wanted to share some with you. On behalf of the Gibbes, I would like to thank Bank of America for supporting such an outstanding program.

Rebecca Sailor, aka Ms. Rebecca, Associate Curator of Education, Gibbes Museum of Art

Art to Go Lands at Mt. Zion Elementary

The Gibbes Museum provides in-school art education through a program called Art to Go. We send teaching artists into the classroom to work on hands-on art projects inspired by the Gibbes Collection. This week, I took a trip to Mt. Zion Elementary School to visit artist Julie Weinberger and the first and second graders enrolled at the school.

This is the second year the Gibbes has brought Art to Go to Mt. Zion Elementary. Every Tuesday and Thursday, Ms. Weinberger works with the students in order to enrich their art education experience. During my visit, the first graders had a lesson on Leo Twiggs—a contemporary artist who paints using an innovative batik technique—and were busy creating simplified batik projects. The Second graders learned about Romare Bearden—best known for his richly textured collages—and were creating their own collaged artworks using the first letter of their first name.

In addition to viewing images from the collection in their classroom, the Art to Go program at Mt. Zion Elementary will bring the students to the museum to see the works by these artists (and more) in person! It is always a pleasure to observe the students at work in their own environment. Then, when I get to see them at the museum viewing the works they have studied it is even more enjoyable.

—Rebecca Sailor, Associate Curator of Education, Gibbes Museum of Art

Learn more about programs for K-12 students at the Gibbes.

Toddler Tuesdays: A Parent’s Perspective

Toddler Tuesdays
Danielle Zorn (center) and her daughter, Kylie, paint fall leaves during Toddler Tuesdays.

If you come to my house on a typical morning you will probably find me asking my two year old daughter Kylie at least four to five times to please put on her shoes so we can get our day started. Not on Toddler Tuesday. All I have to do on Tuesday is casually mention that it’s time to head to the Charleston Library Society and shoes are on and she is out the door before I have time to blink! She loves the Gibbes Museum of Art’s Toddler Tuesdays and so do I!

Once we arrive at the Library Society both kids and adults settle in on giant bean bags and sit back and listen while we are taken on an exciting literary journey that help the kids explore the world of art as well as the world that surrounds them. They are often asked questions during the stories that help them explore and understand the morals and lessons of the books. Once the stories are read, the kids move on to their art projects. From painting to collage, pencil drawing to t-shirt dying, the art projects are varied and exciting. Whether taught by Annette Wanick or Sandy Young, the kids learn about basic art concepts such as color mixing, shape recognition, the use of texture and layering, and much more. Both Annette and Sandy are wonderful art educators that relate to and encourage creativity from their students. With such caring and knowledgeable teachers, it is no wonder that each week we come home with a new masterpiece to add to our collection as well as wonderful memories that will be remembered for a longtime to come.

I think that Kylie sums up her experiences here best when she leaves on Tuesdays saying, “that was really fun, mommy. I like coming here.” I agree.

Danielle Zorn, Member and Guest Blogger, The Gibbes Museum of Art

Toddler Tuesdays
Free and exclusive for Gibbes Museum and Charleston Library Society Members
Every Tuesday at the Charleston Library Society, 164 King St
10:15–11:00am in the Children’s Room; No reservations required
Led by Gibbes Women’s Council members Annette Wanick and Sandy Young
Questions? Call Rebecca Sailor at 843.722.2706 x41 or email rsailor@gibbesmuseum.org

Toddler Tuesday’s: An Art Teacher’s Treat

Toddler Tuesdays
Annette Wanick shares a story during Toddler Tuesdays.

Teaching the Gibbes Museum of Art’s Toddler Tuesdays—held weekly at the Charleston Library Society—has become one of my favorite things to do. The class combines story time and art activities for children ages 18-months to five years accompanied by an adult. My partner-in-crime, Carole Anne Rissmiller, and I love reading the books and planning the lessons. (We also use Toddler Tuesdays as an excuse to have lunch at different restaurants and explore Charleston with our cameras!)

All art lessons for the toddlers are discipline based. Each week we use a fascinating early-learning level book to help the children explore the world of art. Last week, we read “Squarehead” by Harriet Ziefert. Through question and answer, we discovered that there are many different kinds of shapes and colors in our clothes, on the windows and doors, and all around us. Learning and recognizing shapes is a fundamental tool when learning to read. Focusing on what they learned in “Squarehead,” the children and their adult partners created personalized books featuring specific shapes and colors. Extra pages were included to allow them to continue working on their books at home.

As a retired elementary art teacher, this class allows me the opportunity to continue to share the world of art with children. I hope to have more children and parents join us this year.

Sandy Young, Women’s Council Volunteer and Guest Blogger, Gibbes Museum of Art

Toddler Tuesdays
Free and exclusive for Gibbes Museum and Charleston Library Society Members
Every Tuesday at the Charleston Library Society, 164 King St
10:15–11:00am in the Children’s Room; No reservations required
Led by Gibbes Women’s Council members Annette Wanick and Sandy Young
Questions? Call Rebecca Sailor at 843.722.2706 x41 or email rsailor@gibbesmuseum.org

Museum Mile Weekend: September 25 and 26

Museum Mile Weekend Logo

On September 25 and 26, 2010, the Gibbes will be partnering with other cultural institutions along and around Meeting Street to offer locals and tourists a single entry pass during the second annual Museum Mile Weekend. Charleston’s Museum Mile operates year-round with signage, brochures, and a website to help visitors navigate Charleston’s cultural corridor. However, on this one special weekend, we band together to offer one admission price.

The concept of Charleston’s Museum Mile was hatched several years ago by Dr. John Brumgardt, executive director of the Charleston Museum. The downtown cultural attractions had partnered on programs in the past but had not done much in the way of cooperative marketing and signage. The idea for the Charleston Museum Mile emerged as Dr. Brumgardt and representatives from other cultural institutions opened up a map of the Meeting Street area and plotted the many museums and historic sites that would be of interest to tourists and easy to navigate around. While the concept of a “Museum Mile” was not new and has proven a success in other cities, such as New York and London, the unique alliance formed by the cultural institutions and the inclusion of religious sites and parks put Charleston’s Museum Mile in a category of its own. By 2008, the grass-roots campaign to promote the Mile was in full swing largely in part to the dedication and collaborated vision of the participating organizations and institutions.

For one $20 pass (and only $10 for children 12 and under), passholders can visit thirteen cultural sites throughout the weekend.  If purchased separately, adult admission for these sites would be over $100! Sites participating in the upcoming Museum Mile Weekend are:

Many of the cultural institutions will also offer special programs during Museum Mile Weekend. The Gibbes will offer free docent-led tour at 2:30 on both Saturday and Sunday.

Passes for Museum Mile Weekend can be purchased at www.charlestonsmuseummile.org or at any Charleston Visitor Center location. Online purchasers will receive their passes in the mail so be sure and order your passes early. We hope you’ll take advantage of this terrific opportunity to sample Charleston’s cultural riches for this not-so-rich price!

Marla Loftus, Director of Museum Relations, Gibbes Museum of Art

Back to School Tools at the Gibbes

Students on a guided tour discuss the painting "April," by Childe Hassam.
Students on a guided tour discuss the painting April, by Childe Hassam.

School Year 2010–2011 is here! Most teachers and students return to their classrooms the week of August 16th for another year of enlightenment. The Gibbes Museum is excited, as always, to be a part of this learning process. There are many different ways schools can utilize the Gibbes’ resources to enhance their curriculum. My role, as Associate Curator of Education, is to plan programs that help our audience enjoy the museum and learn about art history. Let me share some insider tips on how to make the most of the Gibbes.

On www.gibbesmuseum.org, we provide a wealth of information in our Learn section. First, look over our tour information. We have guided tours for preschool through 12th grade classes that are aligned with the S.C. Learning Standards. And, there is always the option for a teacher to lead their own self-guided tour. We also bring art into the schools with the Gibbes Art to Go program. Through Gibbes Art to Go, any school or organization can submit a request for a teaching artist to lead a hands-on project in their school. Proposal forms can be downloaded online.

Teachers have their very own area on our website—Just for Educators—where they can build their own gallery of images using our collection and download our Educator’s Guide. We provide a bound copy of the guide to every teacher that brings their class for a tour, and it can also be mailed out or picked up at the museum. The Educator’s Guide is a great way for teachers to explore our collection before, after, or in place of a visit.  Of course we hope it will not be in place of a visit, but we know not every teacher will be able to visit the Gibbes this school year. Contact me at rsailor@gibbesmuseum.org to request a guide. In addition to teaching tools, information about the Mary Whyte Art Educator Award is also available in Just for Educators. The annual award recognizes a high school art teacher in the tri-county Charleston area who has demonstrated superior commitment to their students and to their craft. I encourage you to nominate yourself or a deserving art educator today!

One of the final stops on the website under Learn is the Gibbes Interactions features. Select a signature work of art from the Gibbes collection, and enjoy an in-depth exploration of the artists, subjects, and styles that have shaped the art of Charleston and the south. You can display Interactions on your Smart Board and have fun!

Remember, we are your visual arts museum. Come for a visit whether it is in-person or virtually. Welcome Back to School!

Rebecca Sailor, Associate Curator of Education, Gibbes Museum of Art

Above: Photo by Scott Henderson

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