Image courtesy of Walker Teens Facebook page
Museums offer a unique view of a subject — be it art, history, science — and a chance for greater immersion and interactivity. St. Paul Academy and Summit School students have most likely visited more than a few museums by the time they have reached high school, and are familiar with the experience. However, with the abundance of opportunities to volunteer or work in a museum available to teenagers, some SPA students have taken the experience of a museum a step further.
Modern art fans are likely familiar with the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis— its striking architectural design, bold exhibits, and iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture. Especially relevant to SPA students are its many opportunities and events for local teenagers to get involved in. Some of these opportunities include free admission for those under the age of 18 to galleries, Teen Art Lounge on every third Thursday of the month, and a Walker Art Center Teen Arts Council (WACTAC), which juniors Ingrid Topp-Johnson and Jane Jackson are a part of.
“It’s my first year…I applied for the program last summer,” Jackson said. “A classmate of mine, Ingrid Topp-Johnson, started on WACTAC last year. I wanted to be more involved in the arts community. It sounded flawlessly awesome, getting to work with artists and being at the Walker regularly,” Jackson said.
The WACTAC is a selected group of around 12-13 teenagers who collaborate with the Walker to provide opportunities for teenagers to connect with contemporary art and artists. It is a paid job, not a volunteer program.
“I have been on the council since the beginning of my sophomore year,” Topp-Johnson said. “I became interested in getting involved with WACTAC after going to the free teen-centered art making events they host at the Walker. I was encouraged to apply to be on the council at the end of my freshman year by former WACTAC member and SPA student Will Brower [class of ‘13].”
Examples of past projects for the council include hosting artists speakers, teen art exhibitions, and workshops. The WACTAC also co-hosts the Teen Art Lounge every month alongside a visiting artist.
“We meet to plan teen-centered arts events, talk about the world and how it pertains to art, and to attend performances and see art at the Walker and beyond,” Topp-Johnson said.
The council has a blog in which members write entries detailing their personal art experiences, in which Jackson and Topp-Johnson both have entries. Students can read the blog to get a good sense of what the council is really about.
Museum programs like the WACTAC not only connect students to a subject like art or science, but to other teenagers who share some of their same passions.
“My favorite part of WACTAC is the people…meeting and being around everyone. The environment is crucially different than SPA, and with the added elements of art, critical thinking, and no bounds discussion,” Jackson said.
Some other museum opportunities include programs at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Science Museum of Minnesota, and the Minnesota Children’s Museum. Students can use websites like VolunteerMatch.org to locate a variety of options to suit their interests and availability.
Opportunities like these allow teens to connect with others who share the same passions, engage themselves at a deeper level in their interest, and help other teenagers get involved as well.
“Being part of an interest-based community through these museum opportunities helps you figure out what you love most,” Jackson said.