University of California,Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

The University Museum's Role in Arts Education

Institutional Direction

The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive is the fine arts center on the University of California, Berkeley campus. With a broad collection of historic and contemporary arts, as well as film from around the world, the museum plays a central role in the arts education of the campus and the community.

A recent strategic plan initiative at the museum led to some conclusions about its role in arts education:

*A core value of the museum is the belief that art and film contribute powerfully to learning and that we must strive to fulfill this educational potential for diverse audiences.

*We believe that art and film should play a central role in the learning experience of every Cal student, especially undergraduates.

*We know that exposure to the arts increases cultural awareness, develops sense of self, improves cognitive capacities, and fosters greater sociability, all of which contribute to improved classroom learning in diverse disciplines.

Curators' Role

The Curators' role within the University museum setting is not unlike that in city, county or private museums; we are the creative voice of the institution through initiation of original exhibitions, as well as development of collections and programs. In gallery printed labels and interpretative content rests solely with the curator. Collaboration with the Education department is essential to the development of relevant programs and we serve as the "expert" voice on selection of outside speakers and interpretive programs.

The tight bond between the university and the museum creates opportunities for curators to be directly involved with the academic community. A few of these include formal roles in classroom teaching (guest lecturers), participation in campus wide initiatives (Townsend Fellows), gallery talks (student docent training and alumni groups), and student mentoring and internships for post-graduate and graduate students in the arts (Mellon, J.S. Lee, W.T. Chan, ACHIEVE, PFA Film Curating Internship).

Our curators also serve as supervisors for work-study students whose long-term academic and professional interest may or may not be in the arts, but whose family's financial situation allows for on-campus employment. The program introduces undergraduates to the arts in a very direct way and opens the door to life-long involvement in the arts. Examples of student projects include work in conservation, collections management, and art and film research.

As the museum prepares to move to a new site in downtown Berkeley new initiatives for enhanced community learning have begun including programs for teens, K-12 in-gallery interactive exhibitions, art-making classes, and greater exchange between artists and community. Live programming of dance, performance, and music are new programs involving guest curators from specific disciplines. The size and scope of the museum as well as its long-standing commitment to higher education encourages experimentation in all facets of our programing.