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  • Angie Seutter

FIELD (TRIP) NOTES: School Tours Resume

This fall, students returned to Mia for tours and school guide Angie Seutter reports on getting back into the groove of touring with kids.

Schoolchildren during a field trip tour in the Mia galleries • Credit: Minneapolis Institute of Art

As we approach what for many students is the end of the first semester of the 2022-2023 school year, most of us on the student side of the guide program have had a chance to get a few in-person tours under our belts. For me personally, the chance to interact with students and teachers at the museum has been exciting, chaotic, joyful and tiring!

Some teachers have shared that their visits to Mia this fall were the first big excursion they’ve taken with students since 2019 and they appreciate being able to explore venues outside the classroom again. More students are showing up at Mia for their first field trip ever, having spent the first part of their elementary experience during the toughest months of the pandemic.

These slight shifts have moved me to become more flexible with my tours, letting the kids and teachers have moments of wonder and observation while veering off our planned route. Recently, a group of high school students noticed Dale Chihuly’s Sunburst while climbing the stairs and slowed down to look at it. While I could only remember minimal details about the piece and initially mixed up the 1000 piece and 3000 pound numbers, simply asking why it caught their attention prompted a thoughtful discussion. There’s a measure of grace to be shared with students, teachers, chaperones, guides and staff as we all ease back into the new normal of school tours.

To see if other school guides were having similar experiences and had insights to share, I checked in with a few folks about how the first “semester” has gone for them.

Terry Keir shared that students were attentive, interested and actively participated in discussing the art viewed. “I think one of the best parts of school tours is the excitement and openness of the students,” Keir said. “School tours remind me why museums are important and how school tours can broaden student views of the world.”

“The brightest spots always come from the students,” said Tom Carlson. “Seeing them come into Mia with such excitement on their faces is a joy. Hearing their comments and questions is a joy.”

Maria Reamer agreed, sharing that “it has been a joy to be back at Mia and to have had a number of tours. I have enjoyed the challenge of learning more about other works as the schools have many more tour topic options to choose from.”

Reamer also found that engaging with chaperones directly made her tours more successful. “Gaining their partnership on keeping the group together has changed my tendency to lose focus with wandering children, and, sometimes, wandering chaperones” she said.

Sara Wagner has found joy this season in observing children and chaperones interact. “It can be a treat for a child to have their own adult as a chaperone,” she said. “When I’ve had such ‘pairs’ on a tour, I enjoy seeing them both get excited about the art and the overall experience.”

The winter weather has posed challenges with the frequent late arrivals of school groups. “The bus schedule often does not allow our tours to extend past their designated times, so we have to rush our presentations,” Tom Carlson explained.

Carlson also shared some sentiments about colleagues that dig down to the heart of the guide program: “This fall/winter I’ve learned how much I appreciate my relationships with other guides, he said. “I’ve been able to meet so many competent and kind people, who care about students and about helping them improve their creative thinking. The guides are very supportive of each other. They share useful tips, encourage each other and are a joy to work with. I feel like the other guides have my back – like Dr. Arrieta with his friend Francisco Goya.”

Self Portrait with Dr. Arrieta, 1820, Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes, Oil on canvas

The Ethel Morrison Van Derlip Fund, 52.14 • Credit: Minneapolis Institute of Art

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