About the Project

Commitment to Art Education and Programming: The Thousand Words Project

The Bates College Museum of Art’s education program is focused on curricular involvement with both the College and surrounding communities. Through programs like the Thousand Words Project, which uses exhibitions and collections to teach writing skills and visual literacy, the museum serves as a tool for educators and students. Whenever possible, outreach programs include a service-learning component to capitalize on the expertise of Bates students.  In this way, service to the Bates community and outreach beyond campus are combined seamlessly. The museum now reaches every middle school student in its surrounding communities of Lewiston and Auburn, the second largest population center in Maine.

Using a substantial grant from an anonymous donor, the museum positioned TWP as the focal project for outreach directed toward Lewiston and Auburn middle schools.  Every 7th-grader from AMS and every 8th-grade student from LMS (for a total of over 600 students) visited the museum to view works of art and to perform writing exercises based on them.  The AMS project was paired with a project for 5th-graders in the Auburn system offered by LA/Arts under the umbrella of a district-wide visual literacy campaign. The Auburn project focused on creative writing and culminated in the form of an anthology of poems gleaned from the student’s work. The LMS project explored the Six Traits of Writing by comparing the writing processes and components to those of painting. To serve as a further resource, the museum placed on its website images of collections that had been viewed during TWP sessions.

Anecdotal evaluation from LMS was overwhelmingly positive, and response from AMS with particular regard to the poetry anthology was similar.  As in the past, hard evaluation remains elusive, and an ideal project for a Bates student with experience in evaluation.

Plans for the coming year include more extensive use of the website to allow students greater ease of access to images for continued exploration.