Skip to content

Art Enthusiasts & Summer Adventurers–We Want You!

May 3, 2016

Summer is a great time for starting new adventures—be it diving into a new hobby, taking a day trip to a new place, or just spending an afternoon doing something new to you. This summer, the Go van Gogh outreach team would love to invite you to make one of your summertime adventures be volunteering to help us bring art experiences to children across the Dallas community!

What we do:

The Go van Gogh summer outreach program brings hour-long FREE art experiences to children in local libraries, recreation centers, Boys and Girls Clubs, and YMCAs.  Our summer Go van Gogh volunteers, who lead these programs, spend thirty minutes guiding students in interactive conversations about several artworks from the DMA’s collection that promote discovery and wonder. The second thirty minutes is all hands-on making—volunteers lead students in an open-ended art activity related to a theme from the program.

What can you expect from your summertime adventure?

  • Meeting other wonderful, like-minded passionate volunteers;
  • Learning about artworks in the DMA’s collection;
  • Flexing your art-making muscles (don’t worry, we’re not all artists ourselves!);
  • And–most rewardingly–spending fun-filled hours sharing your passion for the arts with children across the city.

So, why make this your summer adventure?

Museums are treasure chests that can teach us about the world we live in, and help us understand peoples across cultures and time. (Way to go, museums!) But museums are also places that can be difficult for everyone to get to, and therefore, difficult to discover and know (and love).

This is where Go van Gogh (and you!) come in! Our program, both during the school year and in the summertime, brings the fun experience of the Dallas Museum of Art to locations all across the city, and to students who may not (yet!) know what treasures there are to be found here. So spend your summer with us, and help introduce students to the adventures they can have at the DMA.

For more information about becoming a summer volunteer, and to submit an application, visit our web site.

Amy Copeland
Manager of Go van Gogh and Community Teaching Programs

Friday Photos: April Showers Bring…

April 29, 2016

May flowers, of course! So we’re hoping that this stormy day is a good sign for the plants on our grounds in the upcoming month! In the meantime, we’ve been enjoying our flowers blooming in the galleries. Come to the DMA today to see these works of art that are sprouting with petals and leaves, without having to reset your perm!

Whitney Sirois
McDermott Graduate Intern for Gallery and Community Teaching

Playful Learning with SPARK!

April 26, 2016

Why teach the creative process? Last week, my amazing colleague Amy Copeland and I drove the Go van Gogh van (say that three times fast!) to the historic South Side on Lamar building to take part in the 2016 Creativity Confab hosted by SPARK!. We arrived excited to hear some of the city’s most creative minds participate in a panel discussion on the importance of creativity in a child’s education, and were greeted with an inviting maze of slides, “slinky” tubes, catwalks, and creative play stations, including a giant Lite-Brite and a recording studio. Needless to say, not even our inappropriate choice of shoes could keep us from joining in on the fun and exploring!

Inspired by the City Museum in St. Louis, SPARK! was founded in 2010 to teach the creative process and empower children through playful learning. Student visitors are invited to first fully immerse themselves in the space and loosen up by playing. Fred Peña of Booziotis and Company Architects, the space’s designer, says that his favorite part of the project is watching a cautious student finally work up the nerve to tackle the floor to ceiling slide, and then repeat the adventure again and again. After playing, the students move on to an art activity geared to teach the creative process and encourage collaborative problem solving.

photo 3 (1)

While the facility has only been open since June 2015, preliminary research reflects that students are more likely to describe themselves as creative and more likely to believe they’re capable of coming up with a valuable new idea after a visit to SPARK!. Significantly, about 57 percent of the children served by SPARK! come from low-income communities, reflecting the organization’s commitment to offering creative learning programs to underserved groups.

The panel’s consensus? Access to creative learning programs help children develop self-reliance, confidence, and resilience. They’re more like to perform better academically and in their future careers. As with sports, the arts teach children teamwork and help them develop confidence in their own abilities. Moreover, children learn not to fear failure and discover that problems often have more than one solution.

As a museum educator, my visit to SPARK! served as an inspiring reminder of how playful learning can help students make meaningful connections to the arts and tap into their own creativity. I look forward to my next visit, sans the wedge sandals.


Lindsay O’Connor
Manager of Docent and Teacher Programs

Friday Photos: Dress Like an Egyptian

April 22, 2016

Ask any member of our Education Department: we love our props, and we LOVE dress-up! Luckily for us, our visitors do, too! No matter the age or the stage, we all have a blast getting into the spirit (and outfits) of our art.

Just this week, our Meaningful Moments group, led by our wonderful McDermott Intern Emily, got funky with the pharaohs in some hip headwear. Take a look!

Did you catch Pharaoh Alan putting bunny ears on Pharaoh Emily?

Jennifer Sheppard
Teaching Specialist

High School Film Day

April 18, 2016

Lights, Camera, Action! On Friday at the DMA, we welcomed hundreds of North Texas students for DIFF 2016 High School Day. Organized by the Dallas International Film Festival, the annual event takes place in the Dallas Arts District and gives future filmmakers the opportunity to participate in discussions and workshops about creating and marketing independent films at the DMA, the Nasher Sculpture Center, the Crow Collection of Asian Art, and Kyde Warren Park.

Here at the Museum, students participated in an Animation 101 workshop with Reel FX Creative Studios and learned about “old school” FX for the digital age with MediaTech Institute’s Eric Jewell. You can check out Eric’s workshop on forced perspective from last year’s High School Film Day here!

To top it off, the DMA Education team led sessions in the galleries exploring how artists relate to filmmakers, and experimented with DIY photo filters created with everyday objects to mimic different film genres.

Are you inspired to get behind the camera? Experiment with your own DIY photo filters and submit your creations to the Center for Creative Connections #DMAdigitalspot’s current visitor photo prompt, Beauty Redefined!

Lindsay O’Connor
Manager of Docent and Teacher Programs

Make This: Camera Obscura

April 12, 2016

Johannes Vermeer, star of the eponymous Vermeer Suite: Music in 17th-Century Dutch Painting, is famous for his illusionism. Vermeer’s small, gem-like paintings are little windows into 17th century Dutch life. Instead of composing his images from naked-eye observation, however, some art historians believe that Vermeer used a device called a camera obscura.

A camera obscura, Latin for dark chamber, is the precursor to the modern camera, and has been known to artists, scientists, and philosophers since the time of Aristotle. At their most basic, they are made from light-tight boxes with a tiny hole on one side. Light enters the hole and casts an inverted image on a screen inside the box. Its earliest uses can be traced to astronomers, who used the camera obscura to safely view eclipses. However, it didn’t take long for artists to use it as a drawing tool. Camera obscuras can be built to reflect that image on a drawing surface, which artists can trace over to create compositions.

Although early camera obscuras were made from finely crafted wooden boxes, you can make one out of everyday materials. Here’s how to do it.



  • Cardboard box
  • Black tape (duct tape is the best, but I used a little black masking tape too!)
  • Masking tape/painters tape
  • Magnifying glass
  • Tracing paper or vellum
  • Box cutter
  • Scissors
  • Pencil or sharpie

Step 1: Fold down the flaps on one side of your box and tape them down with black duct tape. This will be the bottom of your camera obscura. Remember that camera obscuras need to be light-tight, so make sure to tape down the sides and corners of your box too! I make sure that I have the bottom sealed tight by holding the box up to a light.


Step 2: Draw a small square in the middle of one of the sides of the box and cut it out with a box cutter. A 1-1 ½ inch square is a pretty good size to shoot for. Remember that the sides of the box with flaps, including the one you just taped down, should be the top and bottom of your camera obscura–don’t cut those!


Step 3: Tape a magnifying glass over the small hole. This will be the lens for the camera obscura. My magnifying glass was pretty heavy, so I used a lot of tape to make it secure.


Step 4: On the opposite side of the box from the lens, cut a large hole out of the box. This hole should be nearly as large as the side of the box. If cutting out this side weakens the box or one of the top flaps falls off, don’t worry–just reinforce the box with some tape! It should look like this when you’re finished.


Step 5: Leaving about a 1 inch margin around the sides, cut a smaller hole from the piece of cardboard that was just cut out. This will be used to create a frame for the screen on which the image will be reflected.


Step 6: Trim a piece of tracing paper and use four pieces of masking/painters tape to secure it to our frame. This is the screen for our camera obscura!


Step 7: Now for the exciting part–time to test! Find a brightly lit window in front of which to set your device. I chose a window overlooking our Sculpture Garden in the Barrel Vault, which is one of my favorite places in the Museum.


Step 8: Slide your screen through the top of your camera. An image should appear! Slide the screen closer or further away from the hole in the box to focus your image, or make it sharper. Once you’re satisfied with how the image looks, tape down the top flaps to keep the light out.


And viola! You have your own camera obscura. You can use a pencil to trace what you see on the tracing paper. The best part about this variation on the camera obscura is it’s reusable. Simply tape a new piece of tracing paper on the frame when you want to make another drawing.

Whether Vermeer used a camera obscura to compose his beautiful images is still up for debate. Historians often cite the blurry highlights on metallic objects in Vermeer’s paintings as evidence that he used the tool. These kinds of highlights, called halations, are typical of lens-based devices. However, it’s important to remember that a camera obscura is just another tool in an artist’s toolbox. Tools don’t make art–artists do! There’s no denying the skill it took to represent the tiny details in Vermeer’s paintings, even if he did use a camera obscura.

Try making a camera obscura of your own and see how it fits into your artistic practice. Report back with your findings – we’d love to see what you create!

And don’t forget to stop by the Museum to check out Vermeer Suite before it closes this summer!

Jessica Thompson
Manager of Teen and Gallery Programs

Friday Photos: Clarion Alley

April 8, 2016


Earlier this week, I enjoyed a vacation with my family to San Francisco. After the requisite stops at the Golden Gate and the Painted Ladies, we headed for some shopping in the Mission District where we stumbled upon Clarion Alley. This tiny alleyway has been filled with an ever-changing array of street art since the early 90s. Check out some of the images we snapped on this colorful street.


Sarah Coffey
Education Coordinator


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 249 other followers

%d bloggers like this: