“Take Part in Art”: Triton Museum Awarded ArtTours Grants
Story by Maria Judnick

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“Take Part in Art”: Triton Museum Awarded ArtTours Grants

As always, Santa Clara’s Triton Museum is bustling with activity as they prepare for new art displays, host brown bag lunches, and collect entries for the upcoming Statewide 2D Competition and Exhibition. But, amidst all this typical action, there’s a little extra energy as the staff celebrates two new grants to enhance and revive a dormant service once part of their arts education.

Thanks to the generous support of The Mission City Community Fund and the Rotary Club of San Jose Silicon Valley and Foundation, 16 free ArtTours will be offered to local Title I schools – eight in the Santa Clara Unified School District and eight in the San Jose Unified School District. The $6500 grant will also provide bus transportation for schools located farther away from the museum.

The multipronged goal of the revived 1.5 hour ArtTours for K-5th grade students is to provide a grade-appropriate interpretative, interactive experience within the Triton focused on Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) aligned with the California Department of Education Standards explained Breeta Toma, one of the museum’s art educators. “Instead of passively absorbing the art, our educators will ask students open ended questions about the pieces so they’re looking deeper at the work and trying to answer why this art speaks to them.”

The art educators will encourage visual literacy through a dialogue with the group as they move throughout the museum. As a leader of these tours, Toma knows that teamwork and confidence building will also naturally emerge throughout their time at the museum. She stated, “By reiterating their findings back to them, we’ll also give the students confidence so [once they enter the Triton classroom], it’ll help with their joy of discovering and creating their own art.”

Maria Ester Fernandez, the Curator of Art and Education at the Triton Museum agrees. She added, “We want the museum to offer an inspirational moment. Art does not follow a rigid set of rules – instead, we want the students to see that art is about making choices and using critical thinking as they explore new ways of seeing the world.”

For Fernandez, the ArtTours and other educational outreach programs represent a fundamental part of the Triton experience. “We recognize that people love our cultural institutions. We want the community to see us as a resource and we’re conscious of costs here – we hope to be a venue for families to provide a full, fruitful experience. [...] The ArtTours are a large part of our ‘mission moment.’” Of course, there are also ArtTours for minimal fees available for other groups and special tours for organizations such as the Boy and Girl Scouts, senior citizen clubs and high schoolers.

Additionally, there are plenty of other opportunities for children provided by the Triton through grants and sponsorships by community members. For example, previously, the Triton hosted an award-winning Arts Enrichment Initiative sponsored for several years by the Arts Council Silicon Valley and the First 5 Initiative. This program for Title I preschools included on-site components and a six week parent-child class complete with take-home activities and resource packets. The Triton has also sponsored a long-time art show with the Santa Clara Unified High Schools and is hoping for a new collaboration. The Triton offers ArtReach classes within the schools and a KidStudio Community Scholarship so all children have the opportunity to participate in the Triton’s courses. There is also a vibrant teen volunteer group.

Thus, Fernandez is always conscious of engaging the next generation in art. “At the Triton, we do what our passion is and we see how the museum enriches peoples’ lives, even years later. We’re in the business to change lives.” If you are a Title I educator, want to help with the Triton’s mission, or sponsor future programs, call 408-247-0731 or email education@tritonmuseum.org for further details.