In Fall 2008, the Ulrich Museum embarked on an exciting project. Motivated by a desire to better serve WSU students, connect with campus colleagues, and place more of the collection on view, we reconfigured the Kathleen Edmiston Conference Room for use in classroom teaching. The Museum is now beginning the next phase to further transform this space into a newly designed Collection Study Center and student lounge.
Variously called object study centers and teaching galleries, interdisciplinary educational spaces in university art museums are gaining popularity, and research in the fields of education and museum studies is confirming their worth and that of teaching with original works of art. As a recent study published by the Harvard School of Education reports, “the ways visitors interact directly with objects in the study centers often engage them in ‘high-end cognition’–forms of thinking and learning that are characteristic of sophisticated disciplinary and interdisciplinary inquiry, such as making nuanced discernments, posing sophisticated problems, exploring multiple perspectives, and making generative comparisons and connections.”
Rich with objects from across the globe that explore a variety of subjects, the Ulrich collection holds great potential for such engagement. The expanded display spaces in the conference room allow us to realize this potential and work with faculty to place selected objects on temporary view in conjunction with specific courses. A seminar instructor might teach one or more class sessions in this space, while those with larger classes might assign students to visit the museum and write about the objects individually.
Classes from Art and Design, English, Modern & Classical Languages and Literature, and the Honors Program have become frequent visitors to the space, studying Ulrich objects on multiple occasions throughout the semester. As we are able to better adapt the space and streamline our processes of connecting faculty with the appropriate objects, we expect to find an ever-growing and more diverse university audience utilizing this resource.
For Collection Study Program inquiries or to schedule a class visit, please contact Jana Erwin, Head of Education.