In this week’s City Beat cover story we are introduced to a few local art education coordinators. Each tells of the challenges of introducing the arts and growing diverse audiences for our various art institutions. These challenges are well known and have been discussed so often they almost seem cliché. But it is true; the arts seem to be inaccessible. Most art administrators respond to this concern with innovative educational programming.
But not Cincinnati Art Museum’s Emily Holtrop. When asked about why her title was switched from Curator of Education to Curator of Learning and Interpretation, she said “education” is boring. Actually, what she claimed was people (which people, I don’t know) hear the word education and it’s boring. So she, presumably with the approval of the museum director, Aaron Betsky, changed the title. This is yet another reaction to the tired claim against a perceived stuffiness. Instead of making art more accessible through education, Holtrop simply removes “education.”
But it is not just a mere changing of her title. She goes on to say, “I’m not so concerned about whether we’re educating people….” I thought Holtrop was the art administrator responsible for supporting local school teachers and their curriculum. This means, our teachers who do care about educating their students are left to rely on someone who admits no concern for the same. Holtrop seems proud to claim “we took out ‘education’ and now we learn from you how you want to learn from the museum.” She should have learned how to learn while she herself was in school.
Holtrop and the art museum need to recognize that patrons young and old visit the museum to learn, not to teach. Teaching is a core mission of most museums and Holtrop has effectively removed education as a part of hers.