Monday, July 6, 2009

June 12, 2009, Project Launch at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York

What a joy it was to celebrate Rembrandt at our launch and to open our project to activity now by children and adults! Let us tell you about June 12th at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

About 75 invited guests gathered in the Bonnie J. Sacerdote Lecture Hall of the Ruth and Harold D. Uris Center for Education. Distinguished speakers included Joseph Piro, faculty at Long Island University and director of the grant, Walter Liedtke, Curator of European Paintings at the Met, David Steinberg, President of Long Island University, William Craig Rice, Director of the Division of Education Programs at the NEH, and Andrea Bayer, Curator of European Paintings and Interim Head of Education at the Met. Then, the website was shown with opportunities for the audience to ask questions and envision possibilities. Of great significance is that the website is the home of the project and the place to connect to resources, activities, and contributions. But, the project can happen anywhere, at anytime, with anyone.

The guests saw the 20 highlighted works, information about each, including a larger image with rollovers, the capacity to zoom into each work, and a description. Each work is linked to teaching lesson suggestions and some have audio e-docents. All saw the timeline, resources related to varied facets of the project, links to primary historical documents, multimedia slideshows, a theoretical framework, standards, and various suggested activities. There is a new section now begun for more than the 20 works.

One highlighted activity was the opening of the virtual reality space we will use, our replica of the Rembrandt House in Amsterdam. Participants who would like to download and install Second Life and create an avatar, are invited into the Rembrandt House for conversations, presentations, casual support, play acting life in 17th century Holland, and more. A calendar gives dates and times of meetings and will be filled in during the coming months. July 15 will include a celebration of Rembrandt’s birthday.

As the formal presentation ended, all were invited into the European Galleries upstairs in the museum to see the Met’s Rembrandts. We tried to make the point that the digitized image was no substitute for the real thing. We hope all who participate in the project in the years to come will seek out the works themselves in museums around the country and around the world. To end our launch in the space of the works was like magic.

For those of you who attended, feel free to comment here and add your observations.