The University Museum, located on the Ole Miss campus, not only offers neat exhibits and galleries during the school term, but also an explorative experience for children during the summer season.
The museum’s idea is to expose children to art, history and culture at an early age. According to UM Museum’s Curator of Education, Emily McCauley, the museum’s desire is to get children in the Oxford community comfortable with these ideas, and by doing so they develop a lifelong foundation they can build on in their future.
“We have a lot of success with our camps, a lot of happy kiddos learning about the museum. One of my main goals with these programs is to create a relationship between the museum and children here in our community,” McCauley said. “[My desire] is that they can see the museum as an accessible and fun space and also teach new skills to create new opportunities for them.”
The museum began with its series of camps on June 4 for children entering grades 1–5. Each new week has offered new themes for children from prominent people, places and things in art to myths, monsters and faraway lands. From 9 a.m. — noon, children are able to explore.
This week, the museum is hosting a camp centered around photography and storytelling.
“We want to introduce new skills and new technology to children but also kind of tap into their imaginations,” McCauley said. “Our goal is to get them to think beyond their everyday lives and to enrich their summer learning experience in a fun and sometimes they don’t even realize they’re learning.”
The children not only learn of prominent artists like William Eggleston, but also do projects inspired by storytelling and exhibits the museum hosts. Each morning, the kids go on a photo excursion outdoors where they are able to create scenes with personal figurines and the nature around them. This offers the children an opportunity to practice and learn about perspective while capturing their own pieces of art. The idea is to have a complete photobook of all of the creative photographs the campers were able to capture throughout the week.
“For me, it’s cool to see how kids think creatively or how they perceive things,” UM Museum graduate assistant Ben Strassman said.
To cater to a more arts and crafts form of storytelling, the children always have a project to create each day. Earlier in the week, the children created their own Greek vases and were challenged to try and match the terracotta colors that were used for the ancient Greek vases. The kids then made their own Greek mythological figures out of black cardstock to which they then attached to wooden dowels to construct puppets they could display with their Greek vases as their background.
The kids also had the opportunity to create paintings earlier in the week that could serve as backgrounds. The kids were able to come with ideas and film them on camera in a green room.
On Wednesday, the children created unique scenes with colored tissue paper, animal figurines, pipe cleaners, artificial foliage, etc. inside of a shoe box. They were able showcase their creations in stock motion videos. They used their animal figurines to create multiple scenes with their decorated boxes as the backdrop for their videos.
Through projects like these, the kids not only are given an outlet to be creative but also learn new skills like combining creativity with technology to produce art.
“Before today, these kids had no idea what stock motion was or how that works,” Strassman said. “Now they can go home and they can maybe even create their own so it’s really accessing and putting these seeds in kids minds of things that they can do and then allowing them to flourish creatively.”
As a result of the camp, children are able to learn new skills like that of photography and different mediums of artistic storytelling all while sharing that experience with other children.
“They get to really know each other if they don’t already come in knowing each other,” UM Museum camp staff member Grace Moorman said. “Beyond that, a lot of kids who come here actually enjoy art and they enjoy doing it so it’s fun to be able to let them kind of foster that and let them delve into that more in a creative environment that they know they’re going be built up in.”
To learn more about the camps, visit https://museum.olemiss.edu/summercamp/.
This article was submitted to The Daily Mississippian through an advanced reporting class.