The Day – Mobile Art Museum makes its first stop in Groton

Mystic – Kindergarten students jumping aboard a bus with a green and black floral pattern parked outside the Northeast Academy Arts Magnet School on Tuesday found a museum waiting for them.

Signs at the entrance asked students what they see, think and wonder, and the book “All Are Welcome” was on display.

Kindergarteners peeked at colorful artwork – created by Connecticut high school students – on the walls of the mobile museum, played with blocks and drew pictures in response to the question: What does having hope mean to you?

Named cARTie, the mobile art museum for K-2 students made its first stop Tuesday in Groton.

Executive Director Clare Murray said she co-founded cARTie in 2019 as a nonprofit with her mother, Tish Murray, to address inequities in access to education and the arts. Tish Murray has taught in several Connecticut communities and her daughter is a doctoral student at Columbia University’s Teachers College, and they came up with the idea while volunteering at a children’s museum. After three years of fundraising and planning, Shelton-based cARTie is piloting its programming this year.

The museum bus will also be at Northeast Academy on Wednesday, then visit schools across the state, including New Haven, Ansonia, Bridgeport and Shelton, Clare Murray said.

Along with all of Groton’s theme magnet elementary schools, Northeast Academy, an existing theme magnet school, is looking to reinvigorate its art theme and seek new partnerships with arts groups and agencies, the principal said. Ryan Chaney. He said the launch of cARTie and the concept of bringing a museum to kids and being able to really engage them in art was perfect timing.

He said cARTie gives children the opportunity and access to art right on the doorstep of their own school.

“For our students, we hope this will provide them with a fun and unique opportunity to interact with meaningful artwork,” Chaney said. “At the same time, we hope it stimulates creativity and imagination!”

Northeast Academy students in kindergarten, first and second grade visit the bus this week and participate in art activities. The bus is set to return twice this year as part of an ongoing partnership between the school and the Mobile Art Museum, he said.

Each class, divided into two small groups, visited the museum and did an outdoor activity.

Students on the bus viewed paintings of boats, a raptor and a tree with a landscape, among other images in the interactive museum. Tish Murray had students look at a painting and draw lines with their fingers and underline the colors in the paint.

Outside, Clare Murray led a small group of students, seated on a blue tarp, in an activity centered on a high school student’s painting and asked them, “What is one of the pieces in this work of art that you are going to take with you?”

cARTie had issued a call for art from high school students and served as juries for an art exhibition based on those submissions, Clare Murray said. The nonprofit has made sure to have a diverse representation of high school students from across the state so that all K-2 students who board the bus can feel to see themselves represented in the arts.

The mobile museum centered this year’s artwork theme on what it means to be a child during the coronavirus pandemic, Clare Murray said.

She said research shows that positive, prolonged and early exposure to learning in museums is important not only for improving academic outcomes, but for children to know they can enter any type of cultural space and do with it what they need, whether it is to find peace or an opportunity to practice critical thinking.

The hope, she said, is “to help prepare the next generation to really, really be those innovative, problem-solving changemakers that Connecticut sure needs and will have.” .

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Mildred D. Field