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The Futurist

Take One Picture – a delightful program for primary school students

Around the world, galleries, governments and schools seek to promote engagement with art and maximise its benefit to students of all ages. Quality education programs boost an institution’s profile, satisfy funding bodies and instill a life-long love of art in future patrons. Despite this and the fact we live in a world keen on nurturing creativity as a key skill for solving future problems, many cultural institutions have seen funding cut or frozen.

As a result, many are seeking creative ways disrupt the prescriptive, insular and labor-intensive mold for student engagement. I'll be visiting the UK gallery with a pioneering student engagement in the next few months - read on to find out what makes it great.

Around the world, galleries, governments and schools seek to promote engagement with art and maximise its benefit to students of all ages. Quality education programs boost an institution’s profile, satisfy funding bodies and instill a life-long love of art in future patrons. Despite this and the fact we live in a world keen on nurturing creativity as a key skill for solving future problems, many cultural institutions have seen funding cut or frozen.

As a result, many are seeking creative ways disrupt the prescriptive, insular and labor-intensive mold for student engagement.

A pioneer in the field, the National Gallery of Britain has been running Take One Picture for over a decade. This flagship scheme for primary school student engagement has this year alone seen nearly 50,000 kids participate. Its success has led to the development of a new model for engagement being implemented by cultural institutions across the UK.

The bulk of the program occurs within schools after teachers undertake a training day at the Gallery. Students are encouraged to interpret a different work of art each year - currently Willem Kalf’s ‘Still Life with Drinking-Horn’. The mid-Seventeenth Century painting depicts a collection of luxury items including a lobster, wine glasses and, of course, a drinking-horn. There is wonderful light and contrasting texture among the various elements.

The program goes beyond traditional art appreciation programs that see children redrawing a painting or recreating it in a different medium. Schools develop their own cross-curricular approach with support and materials from the Gallery, integrating literacy, numeracy, science, history and all the visual arts into the project. Work produced is exhibited in schools and communities and then sent to the National Gallery where it will potentially be selected for display. Some of the work can be seen online at the National Gallery website.

This is not a high-tech initiative and isn’t prescriptive in its approach. Take One Picture is a great project for primary schools that gets children engaged with art and thinking about it in ways that they might not otherwise. The flexibility of the program offers opportunities for kids of all ages and abilities, and incorporates significant professional development opportunities for teachers.

The success of Take One Picture has led the National Gallery to launch Take One, an initiative to help other regional cultural institutions use the same model to make their collections accessible to school-aged audiences in a local context. If you’re interested in adopting Take One, you can find out more about it here.

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