A few months into my docent training at Mia, I was assigned a piece to present to my classmates. On a Sunday afternoon with the promise of a cookie in the café, my five-year-old grandson Patric cheerfully accompanied me to help me practice my presentation. I had him sit on the floor in Gallery 311 in front of Salomon van Ruysdael’s 1656 River Landscape with a Ferry and asked him to tell me what he saw in this painting. To my surprise, he first noticed a buoy instead of the cows in the boat and the horses on the banks. As a docent of twenty years, I have always been amazed at children’s first impressions and insightful comments.
It has always been a delight for the guides and staff to see the gleeful groups of school children get off their busses and pour into the museum for their hour-long guided tours.
With an endowment from Roberta Mann Benson twenty-five years ago, the Friends organization was able to help fund busses to bring children to Mia. Since then, the Friends Transportation Fund and additional fundraising have grown to provide busses for over 8,000 students a year.
During the pandemic when the museum closed and canceled all events and guided tours, Mia’s staff adapted, and in addition to its many programs, now offers virtual school tours to students, first through eighth grade. Many children have already participated in these tours and demand is increasing. Friends also adapted, and with the help of museum staff, now presents the lecture series and Friends Only programs online. Art in Bloom 2021 is going virtual, too!
Nonetheless, everyone looks forward to the day when in-person school visits can resume, and the Friends Transportation Fund is ready to provide support when that happens. Nothing compares to standing or sitting in the galleries and seeing the real thing. Students will learn from the guides and guides will learn from the students about the wonders of art as they look together at Mia’s collection.