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Learning Galleries & WPS Curriculum

Supporting WPS Curriculum Projects 

Our new LEARNING GALLERIES are dedicated spaces at each WPS schools for the displays drawn from the Westport Public Art Collections to support teaching and learning with original works of art. They respond to teacher requests, accommodate special exhibitions, and are designed to rotate frequently. Funding for the Learning Galleries is provided by Friends of Westport Public Art Collections, a 501(c)3 organization, and the Drew Friedman Community Arts Center.  

NOW ONLINE Learning Gallery Mini Exhibits:

During the 2019-2020 school year, music and art of China was the focus of the Westport Youth Concert Global Initiative. Throughout the year, students learned about the musical traditions of China, and art teachers planned lessons incorporating Chinese art, culminating in the concert at Staples High School. Later this year, it will be on view at Westport's Town Hall to celebrate its sister city of Yangzhou, China.

When looking at a portrait of someone or group of people, what connections do you make with your own personal experiences and memories?

The Westport Public Art Collections grew rapidly during the 1960's, just as the American Pop Art movement emerged in New York City and flourished throughout the country. In 1964, Burt Chernow—an art educator and art historian—began the Westport Schools Permanent Art Collection (now under WestPAC's umbrella), with the vision that original art be a daily part of the educational environment of every student.

Between 1934 and 1937, the W.P.A. Westport Art Committee awarded commissions for public artwork—murals, sculptures and more—that we still enjoy in our schools and public buildings today.

Other K-12 Classroom Projects that WestPAC has supported include:

Art

  • Gr. 6: Art teachers used Tom Wesselmann's Still Life no. 53, a 1960s interpretation of a transistor radio, to inspire students to create artworks employing objects that reflect their own concept of popular culture.
  • Gr. 9-12: Installed a range of WestPAC works for an oil painting class project on “The Artist’s Inspiration.”

Social Studies

  • Gr. 3rd: Supported district-wide field trips to Westport Historical Society to explore Robert Lambdin mural, Saugatuck in the 19th Century and the exhibit Saugatuck@Work.
  • Gr. 5th Grade: Original plaster relief of US Quarter coin, designed by Westport artist Laura Gardin Fraser, was used by social studies teachers to bring to life a story that students read in class about the Buffalo Nickel, designed by her husband James Earle Fraser.
  • Gr. 9-12: In 2019/20, the inaugural SHS Learning Gallery featured a selection of etchings from the 1932 Bicentennial Pageant of George Washington and lithographs from the civil rights portfolio Mississippi 1964 by Tracy Sugarman. This supported social studies curriculum and curriculum links to these artworks developed by the social studies coordinator. WestPAC led professional development sessions for middle and high school social studies teachers on using artworks in the classroom instruction.
  • At Staples HS we also installed a Rose O’Neil suffrage poster, loaned to WestPAC, to support the women’s studies classes and to celebrate the centennial of the 19th Amendment.
  • Student members of Rho Kappa (social studies honor society) devoted community service hours to WestPAC, assisting with cataloguing, photographing, label-writing, and curriculum links project.

Math

  • Gr. K: SES math specialist used two works by Alexander Calder to explore shapes with kindergarteners. Students applied their study of geometry to notice shapes within Calder’s work, and used directional terms like “near”, “far”, “next to” and “above” to ultimately collaborate on their own Calder inspired work that then was displayed next to the original artwork in their hallway.

Language Arts

  • Gr. 7: WestPAC arranged for original objects with World War II themes to be viewed in CMS classrooms for a unit on historical fiction. Students examined and discussed the works to make connections between art, social studies, and literature.
  • Gr. 10:  English classes curated exhibits using works from the collection. They chose and wrote about the works, traveling to Yale University Art Gallery for a workshop on writing about art for visitors and thematic displays. Their exhibits were on view at Staples HS and Town Hall. Another class authored poems inspired by works in the collections for Poetry Month (April).

Extra-curricular Student Clubs

  • Gr 6-8: Bedford Art Collective created artworks in response to objects in the WestPAC collection; WestPAC reps installed a selection of original cartoons from the collection in the BMS classroom where the Comics Club meets.

Staples High School Senior Internship

  • Since 2014, Gr. 12 student interns have assisted WestPAC in such activities as planning student-curated exhibits, developing and installing their own; collection inventory, label writing, collection research, and more.