From Surrealism to Sculpture: Swindon Museum & Art Gallery launches ‘Learning Library’ for schools and parent educators

By Ben Fitzgerald - 11 May 2020

CommunityArts and Culture

Swindon Museum and Art Gallery has just launched a new online library of free teaching and learning materials to support schools and parents teaching from home.

The online ‘Learning Library’ provides a wide range of free teaching and learning resources, using art to bring learning to life across the curriculum. Featuring over 100 works from the Swindon Collection of Modern British Art, the downloadable teacher toolkits and learning resources provide practical suggestions for developing children’s visual literacy and creative skills.

Developed by education specialists, the resources use artworks to kick-start learning. They can be adapted for children of different abilities and ages, from Early Years to GCSE.

The ‘Learning Library’ is part of the Art on Tour project from Swindon Museum and Art Gallery. Supported by Swindon Borough Council, Art on Tour aims to bring Swindon’s impressive art collection to a wider audience throughout 2020, conferring cultural and educational benefits on people right across the town.

The ‘Art on Tour’ learning programme was established to provide inspiring art engagement and outreach to Swindon schools. Schools had been looking forward to visits from Mr Bomford’s Travelling Imaginarium, an immersive pop-up gallery, and had signed up for workshops and staff CPD sessions. The art gallery hopes to be able to offer the outreach programme again later in the year but, for now, the project has turned its attention to supporting schools and educators online.

Learning Library resources will be permanently available to schools into the future, but it is hoped that in the short term they will provide practical help for staff and parents teaching from home, and for those teaching the children of key workers. 

Learning Library resources include: Art Burst resource packs; Art Hacks for teachers; an Art Cards game; practical toolkits for helping students explore artworks and using art across the curriculum; lesson ideas and links to the Swindon Collection, and three-minute art challenges.

The ‘Art Burst’ resource packs are already proving to be a popular way to support children’s home learning. The resources use key artworks from the Swindon Collection to explore art forms, movements and artists. Covering everything from surrealism to sculpture, each resource provides practical activities and information to kick-start learning.

The Swindon Collection of Modern British Art is a significant resource for schools. It comprises over 600 artworks, including three Turner Prize winners, and is acknowledged to be one of the most nationally significant collections outside London. The collection covers 140 years of Modern Art and includes household names like L.S Lowry, Lucian Freud, Grayson Perry, Henry Moore, Ben Nicholson, Michael Craig-Martin, Howard Hodgkin, Frank Auerbach, and Richard Long. It features work from most major movements and schools in Modern British Art, as well as an extensive collection of work by local artists like Desmond Morris.

Councillor Dale Heenan, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for Swindon Museum and Art Gallery, said: “Mags, as the new Learning Officer at the Museum and Art Gallery, has put together a really good package of resources for schools and parents, and Art on Tour is the perfect way to promote her Learning Library.

“Art on Tour was always about trying to engage local residents in culture in a different way. The coronavirus situation has meant that staff are putting into practice the creative thinking we've been talking about over the last 12 months, and finding new ways of bringing our superb collection direct to people’s homes.

“All ideas from the public are welcome, and the team can use the feedback to continue to build on their successful outreach work."

Mags Parker, Learning Officer for Art on Tour, said: “Art is a powerful education tool which can be used to bring learning to life across the curriculum, and we are lucky to have access to one of the most significant Modern Art collections in the country.

“We recognise the huge demands on schools and established this project to bring the collection directly to them. We want to change the way schools and students experience and engage with art, breaking down some of the barriers to cultural engagement.

“The Learning Library recognises the need for practical tools to help teachers access the collection so that they can use it to inspire students across Swindon. It is now more important than ever that we develop children’s creativity and give them access to this important shared heritage.”

To access Learning Library resources:https://artontour489147035.wordpress.com/education-resources/ To access ‘Art on Tour At Home’: Follow the blog (www.swindonmuseumandartgallery.org.uk/artontour)

Follow @ArtonTour2020 on Facebook. Follow @swindongalleryartontour on Instagram. For more information on future schools outreach email Mags Parker, Learning Officer at: maparker@swindon.gov.uk For more information on the ‘Art on Tour’ project visit:  http://www.swindonmuseumandartgallery.org.uk/info/5/learning-community/5/learningcommunity-1/5

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