The Educational Department Of The Museum-Its Functions

By: Helen E. Fernald

Originally Published in 1925

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Art education in the schools was the field toward which most teachers and leaders were looking hopefully about ten years ago. New ideals and new methods were taking the place of the old ones and had already awakened much interest and secured most encouraging results, but the school seemed powerless to combat opposing outside tendencies. How should the general public be reached, how interested, how trained? It was then that the museums came to the unexpected aid of the art educators art the schools, not only with the offer of the use of their works of art as illustrative material for the classes, but also with the decision to take advantage of their opportunities for reaching the masses of the people in a way that no other institutions could. The year 1915 is a landmark in the history of museum educational work in this country. The leading museums both here and abroad had had for some years guide lecturers whose duty it was to conduct visitors through the galleries and explain the collections to them. Soon the school teachers realized that such guidance for their classes would be of inestimable value and began to bring the children in ever increasing numbers to the museum for observation and instruction. Thus grew up the necessity of Docent Service, and in 1915 such service was first organized.

What is docent work? What do you do? These are questions so frequently asked that I am, going to assume that the reader also would like an answer. To say that we are museum instructors, teachers, really explains little. “Whom do you teach? What? And how?” It is necessary to remind the reader to begin with that the field of labor is almost limitless, in theory at least. Dr. Herbert Bolton, Director of the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, speaking at the Wembley Conference last year thus defines the field within which Museum educational work should function. “Education”, he says, “whether by museums or any other agency, must be adapted to the needs of the recipients; and as the visiting public includes all classes, museum educational work can cover a wide field. . . When we take stock of the range of the museum work we find it . . . embracing all that is known of all arts, sciences, aesthetics, music, literature . . . an ever increasing insistence is being made that museums must be educational and also minister to the multitudinous needs of the adult community. This insistence will increase and museums must become institutions for public education, and must, unlike any other institution, attempt to teach every age and stage of human life, from the cradle to the grave.”1

In practice it is seldom that the field is as broad as this for it is limited in each museum by the nature of its collections and the particular needs of the community it serves. However, it grows in answer to demand the aim of the work is of the highest order. The educational department of the museum has been founded to be at the service of the public. Its business is to show the public how much and in how many different ways the museum may be of use in daily life, how its collections illustrate and enliven the subjects of which we read and think, and how the influence of its art may raise the standards of beauty throughout the community. The public is interested, there is no doubt of that, and if the American people are not intelligent in art matters, if they are not what is called artistic, it is due to the fact that they have had until recently no chance to see great art of the past and no opportunity to develop taste.

So far as the University Museum is concerned, our educational work might be said to fall naturally into three divisions: academic, including the school lectures and class teaching; social, under which would come attention to visitors; and artistic, being the aid we give to art classes and schools and to individual artists and designers.

The greatest number of children are reached through the grammar school lectures. Every week for six months during the school term the Museum offers talks which are related on the one hand to the collections in the Museum on the other to what the children are studying in school. Teachers make reservations in advance for seats. There are talks for the youngest children on the Indians and Eskimo, for history classes on Life of the Romans, the Greeks as Builders and Artists, and the Crusades. Geography classes may come to hear about the peoples of the Philippines, South America, Africa, or China and Japan. Usually the classes are brought half an hour early and are conducted through the Museum before the lecture begins. Visitors are often surprised to see on certain afternoons each week the hundreds of children filing through the galleries while the docents explain some of the outstanding objects to them. For many of the children this is their first visit to a museum and they look forward to it as a great treat. The hour of informal lecture in the auditorium is in the nature of a history or a travel talk according to what the youngsters are studying just then in school and it is illustrated with lantern slides and with objects in the collections. The lecture ends, usually, with a reel of moving pictures on the country which has been the subject of the talk, and the children always look forward to this with much anticipation. That the pupils enjoy these visits to the Museum is quite evident from their expression, their eager curiosity, their exclamations of appreciation, and their rapid fire questions. They conceive a friendly attitude toward the Museum and staff as being there especially to interest them and answer their questions.

Results? We can only go on faith in the power of beauty and learning to make themselves felt. It is doubtless true that some of the children get nothing from the visit except the idea that a museum is a place where are kept beautiful things made long ago and people to tell you about them. Even that is something. But when we remember our own childhood and the deep impression made upon us by certain trips to museums where we saw REAL THINGS we know that the work does have results. Such influence cannot always be measured, it is woven into the fabric of our lives in such a way that it has seemed part of our growth. The teachers certainly feel that the Museum does much to stimulate the interest and broaden the experience of their pupils, for their appreciation has been keen and their request for reservations for the lectures has often made it necessary to repeat them on Thursdays and even Fridays in order to accommodate the numbers, In the last three years over eighty three thousands of children of grammar school age have come to the Museum with their teachers for these talks.

Another course of lectures has been offered each year for High School pupils; six or eight talks each fall and spring. The aim of these lectures has been to supplement the studies in Ancient History, Latin, Greek and Art. Pupils are not usually brought by their teachers to these but come of their own accord after school is over and the teacher gives them some credit for attendance. We have found in these lectures that laying stress upon the excavations carried on by the Museum in the field captures the interest of the pupil and makes history appear in a new light to him, Certainly the element of adventure and the problems of method involved in scientific excavation appeal to him and make the subject of history and ancient languages far more fascinating to the average boy and girl. Prehistoric man, Crete, Greece and Egypt are all subjects using as illustrations archaeological material that the Museum has obtained through its expeditions. The attendance varies between three and four thousand boys and girls each year.

Besides the lectures given by the docents at stated times in the auditorium there are the Gallery Talks. These are arranged by appointment. We believe that this work is almost the most important of all. Every one knows the great teaching value of original objects and teachers of many different subjects and from cities and towns a long distance away as well as those in and near the City bring their classes to the Museum to be shown the collections and have them explained in connection with the subject the pupils are studying. Here the groups are small, docents come into personal contact with pupils and teachers, learn what their problems are and just what point the teacher desires to have emphasized. The variety of interests and ages and background constitutes the problem for the docent, for she must be ready to adapt herself as well as her methods of presentation to any group at a moment’s notice.

If the class is one of small children the chances are that they will want to see the things made by some primitive people. The American Indian collections are strongest in their appeal to the little ones. They run from painted buffalo robe to beaded papoose cradle, arc enticed by the drums and fascinated by the medicine men’s masks. “What is that made of?” they ask. “What is that for?” Some schools try interesting experiments which should have far reaching educational value. For instance, every year the Moorestown Friends’ School at Moore town, N. J., brings its third grade children to the Museum to study the Indian collections. The children are told about the objects, make sketches of them, take notes, and return to school full of ideas for what. is known as INDIAN DAY. Through the rest of the year they are working toward this Day. Each child makes his or her own Indian costume according to the designs they secured when at the Museum. The boys earn the feathers for their headdresses, the girls must win the beads for their headbands. A tipi is built in a woods near the school. When INDIAN DAY arrives in the spring the whole school betakes itself to this forest where parents and friends watch most realistic scenes of Indian lifts acted out by the children among the things they have made. The squaws cook the food and take care of the tipi, tend the dolly papoose and hoe the corn, while the hunters take their bows and arrows and go in search of game. And somewhere in the forest is hidden a deer with all the steak for dinner tied up inside its skin! They also make Indian pottery decorated in the Indian designs. All this is a study by which the children learn to know Indian life so that they will never forget it; incidentally they are learning how to use a museum as a source of information. A number of other schools, do something of this sort though perhaps to a lesser extent. One school studied Eskimo life in the same way except that the play was carried out with models instead of in the snow. Similarly, still another school worked out all the details for the model of a little neolithic lake dwelling.

The majority of classes. however, corning for gallery talks are from High Schools and are studying Ancient History. They can see in the Museum many of the originals of the pictures in their text books. There is the alabaster jar of King Sekhemui of Egypt upon which is an inscription. which illustrates the old custom of naming a year from events that happened during it. There are the things that the Egyptians used in their daily life, mirrors, rings, necklaces, writing materials, dolls and games. The interior of the Egyptian tomb, a mastaba of the Fifth Dynasty, is very impressive and teaches burial customs in Egypt as no description alone ever could. History classes are usually conducted from one object to another according to a chronological order so that the sequence may coincide with the periods as the pupils have been studying them. Classes reading Homer or Virgil are of course much interested in the copies of the famous Mycenaean gold cups and bronze daggers and in the reproductions of frescoes from Mycenaean palaces as well as the copies of bronze utensils, furniture, and other articles from Pompeii.

Not only do classes from the city high schools come to the Museum for gallery talks, some regularly several times a year, but private schools and colleges from all over the eastern part of the state, and from New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland as well. Many of them are interested in other subjects besides Ancient History. Some are studying primitive peoples arid want talks on the Indians of the Amazon or the African Negro, or on the Maoris. Some are taking up the Far East and wish the Arabic and Chinese collections explained from the point of view of history, or art, or religion, or customs. There are classes in special subjects also. A group from Temple University comes each year to see the material illustrative of the evolution of writing, of which the Museum possesses examples from many parts of the world and many periods. Some are very famous examples; for instance, the ebony tablet of Mena with the oldest continuous line of Egyptian hieroglyphics known, and a black diorite tablet from Mesopotamia on which is an inscription possibly the oldest so far found anywhere in the world. Here the development of cuneiform and of Egyptian hieroglyphics may be traced, classes are interested in the story of their decipherment, and the copy of the Rosetta stone may be seen also, as well as examples of Egyptian demotic, Greek, Latin, Chinese, Arabic, Sanskrit, Hebrew, Sumerian, Hittite, and other writing, even the as yet undeciphered Cretan linear and Etruscan! inscriptions. The Peruvian Quipu, Indian picture writing of North America and the hieroglyphic inscriptions of the Maya in Central America represent the art of writing in this hemisphere.

There are many Bible classes, large and small. The older people are often studying history of religions. Buddhism, Hinduism, Mohammedanism, the Egyptian and Babylonian beliefs, the beliefs and superstitions of primitive peoples. A sudden and rather violent mental turnover takes place in the mind of a docent called down to meet a class that she supposes wants to see the Egyptian tomb and finds wishes to have a general comparison of all the religions of the world! Most Bible classes, however, are not quite such a strain on the resources of the docent, and are satisfied with an examination of the Babylonian tablets containing stories of the creation. flood and fall of man, the slabs from palaces of the Assyrian kings mentioned in the Bible, and the door socket from Ur upon which Abraham doubtless turned the great door of the Temple more than once. We are always proud to show our famous Greek gospel manuscript to these classes, for it is the earliest fragment known of any part of the New Testament.

Frequently schools are studying some one phase of art or industry and want the instructor to explain all the various forms as found in different ages throughout the world. A certain college class comes every year to see the pottery and we lead the students from the more primitive forms to the highest products of the pottery art. Hand shaped wares are illustrated by the coiled pottery of the American Indians and compared with the wheelmade shapes of Greek vases. Peruvian arid Maya painted decoration may be compared with Greek and both with Chinese and with Persian painted and glazed potteries and porcelains. Some classes are studying glass and glazes and the docent explains to them the Egyptian and Babylonian glazes and the Roman and Syrian glass and methods of ancient manufacture. Students of jewelry find plenty of Material to study, from the seed and monkey tooth necklaces of the Amazon tribes to the gold ornaments of Peru and Colombia, and the exquisite works of the Egyptian, Babylonian, Nubian, Etruscan and Greek jewellers, Groups studying textiles must. be taken to see the primitive weaves as illustrated in hammocks, nets, baby carriers from South America, grass mats from Alaska, pandanus mats from the South seas, cedar bark woven hats and blankets of wild goats’ wool from the Northwest Coast, feather robes from Hawaii, ail the wonderful coloured. cotton garments from Sumatra, Java, Borneo and the Philippines, from the Aino of Japan and the primitive tribes of continental Asia, African palm fibre mats, and all the woven bags and quill embroidered garments of the North American Indians. There are also Oriental rugs, Persian brocades and Coptic and Peruvian tapestries. The Peruvian textiles are our joy and furnish an interesting climax to the series from the standpoint of technique.

Many colleges and private schools come wishing to have the collections explained as illustrating their studies in History of Art. This is comparatively simple, for the docent can base her talk upon an outline purely chronological and historical. Art in the light of historical events and as the expression of the character of a people is a very systematic way of approaching the. subject. Yet the real fun comes in tracing art forms and influences into other countries, making comparisons, finding out what was contemporaneous, binding the ancient work into one whole rather than separating it into isolated sections, One can do this only with college classes or groups of older people who have a very wide general knowledge of ancient history to begin with.

Groups of men and women, clubs and societies of various kinds often visit the Museum and ask for an instructor. As these people do not usually consider themselves is students, the duty of the docent in such cases is to tell the story of the objects themselves and point out the importance, artistic value, or human interest of the things in the collections without trying to correlate with any background of history, or religion. or art that the group might be studying. In other words the object in the case of clubs and societies is to-entertain the visitors, to make the instruction interesting rather than complete, to answer questions, and stimulate appreciation. The teacher must be put aside and the docent become a museum hostess. Sometimes clubs and societies will ask if they may have lantern slide talks on some particular subject and this, when it can be arranged, the docent is always glad to do. Several groups in the last year or two have arranged for special talks or entertainments in the auditorium, especially Art Clubs, Women’s Clubs arid Y. W. C. A’s. Mr. Whistler, a Sac and. Fox Indian who has recently been appointed a part time assistant in the department, has already given some delightful Indian entertainments for the Girl Scouts and the Boy Scouts. The department has also at various times given Sunday afternoon. lectures or Story Hours for the general public and often there are walking tours through the galleries on Saturdays with a docent in guidance.

The above should provide the reader with a fairly complete idea of the educational work done with schools, classes, and groups of people. During the last three years one hundred and forty two DIFFERENT school, colleges, and clubs have used the Museum for gallery talks by instructors, some of them coming many times each year.

When docent work was first established a principal duty was to conduct visitors through the Museum, to act as hostess and guide. This still remains one of the primary functions of the docent. It is a social duty yielding a great variety of interests arid experiences. Any visitor to the Museum may have the services of an instructor for one hour free of charge whether he comes alone or in a group. The uncertainty of what to expect keeps our lives from becoming monotonous! The docent may go down to find a small boy clutching another child by the hand. Tony has been to the Museum before, to a school lecture, and he heard the ” teacher” say she would show them other things any time they would come to see them, so he has brought Rosetta over and—this in a loud whisper—” please can we see the mummies?” So the docent lady takes them upstairs where they tip toe to the case in which repose two dark stiff figures of Egyptian gentlemen. And before they leave Tony has decided that he would like to be mummified and put in a museum with a gold mask over his face. Rosetta is not so sure. She gazes with big round velvety eyes at Hapi-men’s black hand as it lies unwrapped on his breast, and shakes her head.

But the visitor may prove to be a professor from some distant university, a Sanscrit scholar interested in the Hindu and Nepalese collections perhaps, or a specialist in Economics who wants to sec the properties of the South American tribes. Or he may be a foreign diplomat studying examples of the art of his country in American museums. Travellers from all over the world, lecturers on all conceivable subjects from philosopy to embroidery, art dealers, students of history, art, ethnology, philology, literature, and the classics, even those studying business, all find in the collections something to interest them. Lawyers are delighted with the Babylonian contract tablets, law codes and cases; they find much ancient legal matter surprisingly modern and very amusing. Engineers gravitate to the ancient traps and drain pipes. Builders examine the stone and wood of which everything is made and ask where the Egyptians obtained their granite and what kind of stone the Chinese Bodhisattva is carved from, and is this chest of cedar from Lebanon, and of what did the ancient Egyptians make their pigments? The docent ought to be a chemist, geologist, arid botanist as welt as an archaeologist. She is even expected to know a lot about bone and ivory, for dentists are always anxious to know about the primitive implements of the Eskimo made of these materials and one must know where to find examples of walrus ivory, reindeer horn and bone, caribou teeth, and human teeth. The great carved ivory tusks on the African juju altar are always objects of great interest to dentists and they delight in the little fetish that has three human teeth stuck in its. anatomy by way of imparting power to it. Physicians and clergmen, writers and business men, sociologists and artists, each one seeks to have the collections explained from his particular angle of interest, as in the case of a gentlemen who went unerringly to the washing materials in each collection. He turned out to be a soap manufacturer.

In the case of specialists and men and women who have travelled and seen and read much the docent acting as hostess and guide has the rare treat of a stimulating conversation arid of enjoying with the visitor his enthusiasm and keen appreciation of the beautiful things in the collections. On the other hand there arc sometimes visitors for whom the Museum opens up worlds hitherto unknown.

There are numbers of letters sent to us from persons seeking information. The educational department is supposed, judging from the questions, to be able to explain the chemistry of Egyptian cosmetics, to translate private correspondence in German, to tell when the boat sails, to give advice as to the spring painting of the house, to identify insects, to judge of the age of oriental vases and translate the symbols on an ancient Chinese bracelet. One letter contained the request for a copy of Abraham’s recipe for making beer! We do our best.

The remark is often made that children nowadays have advantages which even grown people did not possess a generation ago. It is said of the Story Hour, an activity of the educational department. that is meeting with high favor. At present we limit the attendance to children in the families of Members of the Museum. Every Saturday morning through the winter the children are entertained with folk lore, legends and myths, little travel milks, or special programs. The object is to make them familiar with the people and customs of other lands, to teach them appreciation of beautiful things and train their powers of observation. Through lantern slides and moving pictures, but most of all from objects the selves do they learn about children of other countries and former times.

Another privilege extended at present only to Members is the course of lectures on art appreciation and history given by the head docent whenever a large enough number have signified their wish for them. Twenty three lectures have been given so far. This is also a useful work that is capable of extension according as the development of the building plans afford facilities.

One of the most important purposes of an art museum is to be a means of exerting a good influence upon creative art of today by improving public taste and by providing the artist with examples that may be a source of inspiration to him. The artist is a privileged character in the Museum and should have every facility for using the collections. If the Museum is an ultimate source of information it is also an ever growing source for design. European artists have known for a long time how to use their museums and American artists are fast finding cut what may be done with museum material. The influence of the museum is to raise the standard of machine made articles inestimably by extending its influence to the design of things produced in the community so that the public may obtain the more artistic productions and obtain them at a fair price. A chair of good proportions ought not tv cost any more than one of ugly proportions. As for much extolled Nature, museum study cannot supplant her but it does show how other peoples of all times have used that vast storehouse as a mine of motives and ideas. From the art that has survived from ancient times one can learn fine spacing, rhythm of line, strength or delicacy of notan, and harmonious colour as from no other source.

When the art educators first turned to the museums for aid in their campaign against ugliness they could hardly have foreseen how fast the idea would spread. A great many institutions, industries and individuals use the University Museum as a source of design and it would be impossible to mention all of the uses which it serves every day.

That eight year old children know very well how to find and use the designs in the Museum is well demonstrated by the classes from Girard College that come every year to study in the Indian Section. After the docents have pointed out beads and blankets, called attention to shapes of pottery and explained the meaning of the designs, a signal is given and every one of the eighty small boys pulls out a little sketch book and a box of coloured crayons and falls flat on his stomach in front of the case containing the object he has chosen. Eagerly they devour the objects with calculating eyes and hold their breath while the crayons are pushed painstakingly across the paper. Every one is completely absorbed. They are absolutely lacking in selfconsciousness and they are all very much in earnest. The designs are not always copies but they even then have decided Indian style. The sketch books are taken back to the school and from them larger working designs are made. Then pottery is modelled and decorated with the designs and raffia baskets are made, mats are woven and headdressses of feathers are fashioned according to notes made at the Museum.

The work of children somewhat older is well represented by a group of batiks made by the pupils of the Phoebe Anne Thorne School in Bryn Mawr. In the search for designs which could be adapted to batik work the girls, who are about twelve years old, were allowed to choose from any section. The Chinese and Arabic collections offered them the most inspiration and although in most cases the motives were taken over with little change, in some cases the designs are quite original and betray their origin only in style and spirit. Again these children have become familiar with the Museum and what they can get out of it. These same pupils study the Greek vase paintings to find costumes and properties for their Greek pageant, and Art and English join forces in preparing the marionette shows which they both write and produce.

The city high schools are using the Museum more and more. in their art. work. Here too the docents are called upon to do a certain amount of individual tutoring. Pupils are sometimes bewildered by the amount of material presented to their gaze and cannot choose what would be suitable for their particular problem, The younger often do not understand terms and I remember one Lad who asked feelingly if we could show him an example of “substitution”, as he must find one to copy, “Subordination” turned out to be what he meant, The docent must know the collections so thoroughly that she can immediately suggest from the art of various countries many examples of subordination, opposition and rhythm of line and know objects that would yield deigns suitable for silles, or for cotton prints, wall paper, rugs. embroideries, pottery, lace, metal work, costumes, etc. Of all the high schools, Holmes junior High School uses the Museum most. And the Museum is being taken to the schools. Mr. Dillaway, Director of Art Education in Philadelphia, has recently selected a number of coloured plates of museum objects, sets of which are distributed in the schools for the art work. Besides classes a number of individuals from the schools come to the Museum for aid in preparing papers, or designing proper settings and costumes for plays and entertainments, One teacher came to find out what would be correct costumes and poses for an Egyptian dance that her school was going to give. The docent aids in the search for such material and learns much herself by the research. The English, History and Art departments of one High School united in giving a Chinese play last year and the young playwrights, property men and costumers, as well as the actors themselves, came in a body to the Museum to see the Chinese objects and sketch those which gave them ideas. The coromandel screen was a mine of information for them. The instructor explained the historical background and helped to select those details which were contemporaneous and historically correct.

Of all those using the Museum none find it of more value than do the art students. Every day secs them sitting in groups around objects in the galleries, copying and analyzing. For students from the Pennsylvania Schools of Industrial Art the Museum has become a veritable studio and, we are assured by one of the teachers, it has been a mine of design material for them. We encourage the use of the collections in this fashion by these young artists and though the problems they are working upon at the moment are analysis of colour and skill in technique, the wealth of design copied by them is stored up for their future use and becomes an integral part of their art equipment. Years afterwards a printed fabric appears upon the market and is hailed with delight by artists and art lovers. Its antecedents lie back in a Persian miniature in the Museum. A lamp of fine design is quite a new thing in lighting fixtures, yet the designer has embodied in it certain secrets of line and proportion learned long ago from an ancient Etruscan bronze.

The School of Fine Arts of the University of Pennsylvania makes use of the collections for its practice work in rendering and study of form and colour. Perfectly exquisite charcoal drawings and water colour studies of the sculptures, porcelains and bronzes are made by these architectural student, who may not use the designs afterward in any practical way but are nevertheless becoming better artists through the study of the fine arts of classic times and of the Orient. The members of the Department of Fine Arts of the University use the collections in the Museum each year in the preparation of their annual pageant: information concerning costumes, manners and customs of the peoples of antiquity are furnished them by these collections.

Students going into the professional world front the art schools turn naturally to the Museum for inspiration and ideas. Craftsmen revel in the American Indian baskets, the Arabic pottery, the Persian brocades, Little cross stitch designs adapted from Chinese motives appear upon delicate linens, one can see the influence of a Chinese porcelain upon a charming table runner. A pottery manufacturer has designed certain garden jars after Cretan models. A jewelry craftswoman has made a beautiful brooch the design of which was based upon a piece of Chinese jade. There arc handwoven rugs and bags with patterns from Indian bead work and Egyptian amulets in the Museum. One craft worker has recently used one of the Persian brocades as inspiration for a design for a cushion to be outlined in coloured worsteds on linen crash, a quaint sort of thing, and a leading women’s magazine is tartly to publish it in colour with transfer patterns and directions for making.

The great field in which the influence of the art museum has lately been felt is that of the manufacturer, All this training of children to love beautiful things, all this study and practice of art students in the Museum, all this teaching and entertaining of the general public is but one side of the effort to spread a taste for beautiful things.

For what the public demands the manufacturer will produce and what the manufacturer produces will in turn have an influence upon shaping the taste of the thousands of people who buy the product. It is a circle of influence which the Museum attempts to shape into a spiral, climbing constantly to higher standards of beauty. The head designer for one of Philadelphia’s leading firms tells the writer that public taste has undergone surprising changes in the last ten years and that there is now a far greater demand for rugs of real artistic merit. Furniture, table silver, pottery, china, containers of various kinds, jewelry, iron wrought lamps and brackets, even cravats, are all vastly improved in design. Perhaps the greatest stride has been made in textiles. Certainly there are finer, more tasteful arid artistic fabrics, printed silks, cretonnes, brocades and embroideries to be seen in shop windows and on the street than have appeared before in many a year. Travel abroad and the influence of imported stuffs have contributed much to keep art standards high and the fact that designers in Europe go to the museums for inspiration is an example now being followed by artists in this country. Designers for the leading manufacturers are coming to the University Museum more and more for material which will satisfy the new demand. Lace curtains have been manufactured by a famous lace firm of this city after a design inspired by New Zealand wood carvings in this Museum. It is a design of great beauty and originality but whose initial conception was based upon the peculiar beauty of a race and clime not our own.

The twofold object of educational work in the University Museum might be expressed briefly thus, on the one hand to train and enlarge that part of the public which is intelligent and artistically appreciative, that is to increasing public good taste, and, on the other, to make it possible, through influence on art and industry, for that public to obtain things that are more artistic and thus satisfy its demand for higher standards.

Already America has seen a change in its attitude toward art, it wants to be more artistic. And if its museums can help it to become a nation of beautiful cities, of artistic homes, of cultured people who find the beautiful things of life an expression of the inward beauty of life itself, then they will have fulfilled their purpose.


1 The Museum Journal, August, September and October, 1924

Cite This Article

Fernald, Helen E.. "The Educational Department Of The Museum-Its Functions." The Museum Journal XVI, no. 2 (June, 1925): 132-145. Accessed February 22, 2024. https://www.penn.museum/sites/journal/1335/


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