Award honors teachers who use museums

Kelly Mescher

Whether its found at the Brunnier Art Museum, the Farmhouse Museum or anywhere on campus, Iowa State artwork is for everyone’s enjoyment, and University Museums will again be awarding an educator who makes use of the artwork in the classroom.

Matthew DeLay, curator of education for University Museums, says the fourth annual Museum Teaching Award, which will be given out in April, is open to all area educators, whom are either nominated or nominate themselves.

DeLay says the award is meant to promote creative and innovative ways of using University Museums resources in the classroom.

“Really, [it’s] to emphasize that the museums are for the university and the community as a teaching source, and we’re here to be used,” DeLay says.

Randall Huff, assistant professor of English, was the 1998 winner of the Museum Teaching Award.

Huff says he did a series of assignments with several of his English classes that were related to the Brunnier Art Museum and the Farmhouse Museum. One of the activities involved sending students to the building in which their major is headquartered to find the piece of artwork that holds the most significance for them.

“It enriches the student experience,” Huff says. “It forces students to ask themselves serious questions about the nature of their humanity. It fosters class discussion, providing a non-threatening venue for serious discussion.”

He says he incorporates artwork into the class hoping his students reflect and grow.

Kyra Wilcox-Conley, elementary teacher at Roosevelt and Mitchell schools, was last year’s winner. She brings her classes on field trips to the Brunnier Art Museum and to see campus artwork.

“Having taught elsewhere in Iowa where there are not as many cultural resources, it’s just important to me for the students to know what local treasures are here,” she says. “We tend to overlook what’s nearest to us sometimes.”

Huff and Wilcox-Conley both commended the excellent job the staff at University Museums has done in helping to inform their students.

“They do a great job of finding out what you want the [students] to know when you leave,” Wilcox-Conley says. “And they do a fine job of tailoring our visits to enhance the curriculum that we’re teaching [in the classroom].”

DeLay says he and the staff at University Museums are glad to have people make use of their resources. This year’s Museum Teaching Award is $500.

“It’s a wonderful award,” Huff says. “I encourage everyone to apply. And most importantly, it is good in that it should encourage more professors to use campus art in their courses.”