Saint Joseph Museum of Art to use $300,000 in funding to ‘transform’ connection with CT students

WEST HARTFORD — The Saint Joseph University Art Museum has received a $300,000 endowment that will change the way it reaches out to Hartford students, officials say.

The museum received the endowment from the MJB Foundation, which was founded by Bishop Thomas J. Barry of the Church of Saint Patrick in Farmington.

Ann Sievers, director and curator of the museum, said the funding will allow them to “transform” their ability to connect with students of all ages in Hartford.

“For years, we’ve held occasional workshops for teachers and held family days,” Sievers said. “We had a few internships in secondary schools, but everything depended a lot on grants or other private donations. It’s more episodic. This endowment will allow us each year to carry out programs that are aimed specifically at Hartford schools. We can develop partnerships.

The initial plan, she said, is to hold more cohesive teacher workshops with Hartford teachers who can then take what they’ve learned back to their school communities.

“We will be able to build on these existing relationships and expand on them,” Sievers said. “The idea is to increase their skills by using original art objects in their teaching. The goal is for them to return to their classroom and use these skills to bring their students to the museum. If they become proficient, it’s not just their current class that benefits…they can serve as master teachers.

Ultimately, Sievers said, they would like to see endowment funding facilitate field visits to the museum.

“We’ve never had funding before to help teachers bring their students here,” Sievers said. “It’s really important and it’s something that a lot of museums have been able to do. Especially nowadays when everyone’s budget is very limited, it is important for us to help teachers. »

Sievers said the museum always likes to welcome students who sometimes visit a museum for the first time.

“It is very important that students experience the art first hand. We all want to see the original artwork and be in the museum space,” Sievers said. “One of the really striking things, because it’s not a classroom, it often piques the interest of students who may not have been great performers in the classroom. There have been several examples of students lagging behind in the class now speaking up…and showing a real talent for analyzing art. Their teachers see a whole new side of them.

The museum is planning an exhibit for 2023 based on a painting by Puerto Rican artist Miguel Luciano. They view this exhibit as important to the Puerto Rican population of Hartford.

“This painting is full of small images that surround the main image that has to do with Puerto Rico’s relationship with the United States,” Sievers said. “We are looking very closely at this exhibit as an opportunity to speak to the very large number of Puerto Rican children who came after the hurricane and who live in Hartford.”

Sievers said the endowment will also allow the museum to increase how often it can offer internships to high school and senior students living in Hartford.

“Students can get involved in various aspects of museum work, including working on curating exhibits,” Sievers said. “There are many projects they can contribute to…with the aim of opening up potential career opportunities in the future or helping them discover their skills and interests. They will really get to know how a museum works and all the different jobs that happen there.

Mildred D. Field