Bryan County students are about to get up close and personal with the Telfair Museum of Art’s Jepson Center.
On Wednesday and Thursday, Feb. 6-7, more than 370 local 1st graders from Richmond Hill Primary School will arrive for a two-hour tour especially for them.
Telfair Education Coordinator Sarah Ward said the museum has had Bryan County students visit before, but only in smaller groups or on an individual basis.
"This is probably the largest bulk of students we’ve ever had from Bryan County, especially of an all-inclusive grade level," Ward said. "While it’s not all the 1st graders in the county, it’s a good start."
Ward said the students will be coming on two days, in two separate groups. When they arrive at the Jepson Center, they’ll be broken up into three rotating groups. One group will take a tour while another participates in a studio project and the third will be touring the ArtZeum.
"They’ll be here for about two hours and they’ll be everywhere. We’ve blocked off those areas of the center just for them, so they’ll have the best experience possible," Ward said. "We’re also going to give all the students free family passes in the hopes they’ll come back with their parents. Our goal is always to raise awareness with what we have going on for the community. We’ve traditionally done things with Chatham County and we just finished a program with Effingham County. Bryan County is so close, we’re trying to branch out and make surrounding areas more aware of what we have to offer."
Ward said local RHPS art teacher Carol Hartley spearheaded putting the event together.
"When we had the 2nd grade here, I used to take them to the Telfair, before the Jepson Center was built," Hartley said. "It gave them an appreciation of art and of Savannah and we did a unit about what we went to see."
Harley’s been an art teacher at RHPS for 15 years. She’s also been a member of the Telfair’s Education Committee, which meets at the Jepson Center every few months to work on educational programs.
"I think this field trip is important, for children to see art first hand. They’ll get the feel of the whole museum," she explained. "The ArtZeum is wonderful for them to experience, because they can touch everything. They know in the other areas of the museum, they can’t be touching the artwork. I bring in a lot of art history to my class, so the children are familiar with artists being very professional people."
Hartley said the idea first started last year, after she organized a work day for all the county art teachers. They went to a four-hour program at the Jepson Center, which included the ArtZeum, tours and lectures.
"It made them familiar with what the center can offer our school system and students. From there, that’s why we’re going," she said. "If this is successful, and I think it will be, we hope to repeat this each year with the 1st grade. This will hopefully be an annual cultural field trip for them."
Hartley said after the teachers had their work day at the center, Walt Barnes okayed the project, followed by approval from the Board of Education.
"We really appreciate the opportunity to have this program for the students," she said.
The tour will be of ‘Fast Forward: Three Decades of Contemporary Art from the North Carolina Museum of Art,’ which has been on display since Jan. 23 and runs until April 27.
The 30 works highlighted in this collection include a massive oil painting by German artist Gerhard Richter, an enlarged version of Mona Lisa, made from 5,000 individual spools of thread, by American artist Devorah Sperber and a myriad of photographs taken from North Carolina to New Orleans to Cuba.
The ArtZeum is a two-level, hands-on gallery designed especially for children.
The upper level includes sculptural examples of architectural elements and interactive media experiences. The lower gallery includes one display that changes daily.
"Phantasmagoria (is) an imaginative and challenging work from the Telfair’s collection by the well-known Expressionist painter Robert Beauchamp. Two nearby activity walls dramatically frame the protected painting and allow visitors to create their own shapes that will, over the course of the day, create new artwork that changes from moment to moment," the Telfair site said.