Teens at the PMA: Spring 2017

Teens at the PMA: Spring 2017

This past spring, a group of teens were busy in the galleries, engaging with the museum while fulfilling requirements for school. Three students from Portland High School joined the PMA Learning and Interpretation team as interns, while another student from Baxter Academy for Technology and Science conducted a sociology project. We asked Jeremy, Will, Caleb, and Grace about their experiences, and here’s what they had to say.

But first….check out the final project by Jeremy Bruce and Grace Mongeau. Jeremy and Grace collaborated by making a documentary about the year-long project that Grace did for her statistics class at Baxter Academy!


How is the museum different to you now than when you started back in March?

Grace: For my junior year-long project at Baxter Academy, I conducted a sociology project on how art affects human behavior and emotion. I led seven groups of students through The Thrill of the Chase: The Wagstaff Collection of Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum studying three different variables: guided tours, unguided tours, and unguided tours with cards that had prompts to help analyze the art. Each participant filled out a survey both before and after they went through the exhibition, and with their responses I wanted be able to identify if there is a correlation between how art affects emotions and if the method of viewing art changes that reaction. 

Caleb: I'm defiantly better at finding my way around the museum than I was in March. There are places I didn't even know existed in the museum! The museum also feels a lot more welcoming, as most other museums I've been to feel and act very distant from the people viewing art. 

Jeremy: The museum is different to me now from when I started my internship because I'm much more familiar with the art in the museum and see many pieces differently because of I learned about them during the internship.

Will: The museum has changed physically since the start of my internship in March. Pieces on the second floor have been moved around, as well as extras being added.

Has interning at PMA helped to shape your career path?

Caleb: Yes, it has. I want to be an animator later in life, so any information and experiences involving art are extremely important and helpful. It has also helped me be more organized than I'm used to being, which I'm sure is very useful in any career.

Jeremy: The PMA has shaped my career path. It's given me an idea of what working in a museum would be like. I got experience in the Learning and Interpretation department, which focuses on how to make art more accessible to people and how to connect people more deeply with the art they're looking at. It's also given me general skills that will help me in many different job settings, like public speaking, communication with others, and planning goals.

Will: My internship at the PMA has helped shape my career path as it has increased my familiarity with a museum environment. For me, the experience was a very useful example of working in a museum, therefore giving me a greater grasp on the field itself.

How has this internship changed how you look at and talk about art?

Grace: I just finished analyzing part of my study, specifically how the art made participants feel as compared to their group (unguided vs. guided vs. card groups). I don't have anything written up just yet; however, I can say that the numbers have proven this was a significant study, which means the changes in emotion are due to viewing the art rather than just a natural change in emotion over time. In simple math terms, for the study to be significant the p value produced by comparing the numbers had to be less than 0.1, and the p value we got was 0.00000126. To put it even more simply, that is really, really good! 

Caleb: This internship has helped me look and talk about art in a more relaxed and fun way. It's also taught me how to make viewing art more interesting through looking for certain aspects in art like how it was made, when it was made and how that relates to the piece, and who made it.

Jeremy: I think the experience working at the museum has allowed me to have a more ideas of how art can be viewed. Conversations can be focused around a specific piece, or a theme throughout the museum. They can also be led with a format that allows viewers to expand upon whatever is being said about the art, or a Visual Thinking Strategies format which is intended as a broad analysis of the art.

Will: During my time at the PMA, a lot of our activities were focused around looking at and discussing art. Due to this, I feel I have honed my artistic eye as well as my public speaking skills. The internship greatly helped me become more comfortable when discussing art.

Do you have a favorite work of art or favorite gallery?

Caleb: If I had to choose a favorite piece in the museum it'd have to be A Constantinople Woodchopper. I think it's just a very simple and well done painting.

Jeremy: My favorite floor of the museum is probably the third floor because it has so much contemporary art.

Will: My favorite piece of art at the PMA is Sharpshooter by Winslow Homer. I love the tension of the piece as well as the interesting use of shadow under the canopy.

To stay updated to PMA teen events and programs, contact Louisa Donelson.

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July 3, 2017
Associate Educator for Youth Learning

Louisa, a Portland resident, has worked in museum and arts education for 10 years. She believes in the transformative power of art and that everyone has something to teach and has something to learn. When designing and implementing programs, she aims to use art as a vehicle to encourage empathy and social bridging, and to foster deep, intergenerational communication. A graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, she enjoys honing her own artistic practice, and spending time outside with her husband Nick and baby daughter, Colette.