Tag Archives: educational programming

An Internship Farewell

25 Aug

Goodbyes are never easy, and this week at the Museum of Inuit Art (MIA) is no exception. The time has come for me to finish another summer of work here at the Museum of Inuit Art, and I must say, it’s just as difficult the second time.

As you can imagine, I’ve grown quite attached to the MIA. I never expected that I would get the chance to work here for two summers in a row, but I’m so grateful I did! Back in May 2014 when I started my first Young Canada Works position as Visitor Services Officer, I had a lot to learn about museum work. My knowledge has drastically increased since then, as I’ve had the opportunity to fill various roles during my time here, such as conducting a visitor evaluation, processing admissions at the front desk, giving tours and promoting MIA at local arts and culture festivals.

I would like to thank all the volunteers who helped out with all the out reach sessions we attended. It was so great to meet people who were interested in learning and sharing knowledge about art and history. It’s so inspiring to see community members giving back by lending their time and experience.

I would also like to thank all the visitors that came out to the programming – both on and offsite of the museum. It was great to put into practice what I had been developing behind the scenes. Through interactions and testing I was able to adapt some new activities and make them even better for the next group of curious museum seekers.

And last but not least I would like to thank MIA staff for welcoming me back, and for making this summer such a wonderful experience. I’ve learned even more about museum work and programming, and after venturing all over Toronto with our outreach team and special events volunteers, I’ve been able to see the museum from a different perspective. Bringing objects from MIA’s Educational Collection to Toronto Public Library branches and local events opened my eyes to the many outreach possibilities in the city, and I’m grateful to have been a part of that.

Even though I’m leaving at the end of another rewarding summer, I look forward to visiting the museum again soon – I’m especially excited for the Abraham Anghik Ruben exhibition this fall! I am so fortunate that I’ve been able to gain experience in my chosen field, and I couldn’t have asked for a better place to work. Thanks again, MIA!


Posted by Serena Y., MIA’s Community Engagement Officer

Get Up Close and Personal: Please DO Touch!

21 Aug

Over the past few weeks, Serena -the museum’s Summer YCW work intern, has been developing more interactive programming inside the museum. After brainstorming, researching, testing and training volunteers she was able to launch Get Up Close and Personal to share art works directly with museum visitors. Read about her experience creating the new program below.

Keeping museum pieces secure and safe from harm is a priority at any museum or art gallery. No museum is complete without a large sign or two saying “PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH”. However, if you’ve been to MIA in the last couple of months on a Thursday afternoon, you may have had the chance to participate in our new Get Up Close and Personal sessions.

These interactive sessions offer visitors the unique opportunity to touch objects from the MIA Educational Collection. Pieces in our Educational Collection are meant to be handled, so visitors can feel free to pick them up and learn more about the texture and material of each object.

I’ve been running these weekly Get Up Close and Personal sessions since July, and the results have been overwhelmingly positive so far. Visitors enjoy engaging in this tactile experience and trying to guess what material each piece is made of based on its texture.


Serena is all set to go for ‘Get Up Close and Personal’. You can join a session every Thursday from 1-2 PM in the museum.

It’s quite interesting to see how visual appreciation of the works in the museum translates to visitors’ tactile experiences – I often ask visitors to feel the porous texture of the antler doll in the collection and to guess what material it is made of. The most common answers are “bone” and “wood”, so most visitors are surprised to learn that the doll is made of antler, which caribou shed every year.

It has been especially rewarding to see how visitors make connections between what they have already seen in the museum and what they are holding in their hands. Once visitors find out that the carved ivory piece is a walrus tusk, many of them mention the narwhal tusk and the small ivory sculptures in the historical case at the museum.


Pieces from the museum’s Educational Collection that reflect the different types of materials and textures you can find in art produced by Inuit.

I’ve even encountered visitors who are familiar with Inuit art and have recognized different types of stone, pointing to Pudliak Shaa’s “Dancing Goose” and saying, “is that serpentine?”

These interactions with visitors are part of what makes working at MIA so fulfilling. I love contributing to visitor learning and watching visitors discover more about Inuit art. If you’d like to see (and touch) these objects for yourself, be sure to drop by the museum on Thursdays from 1-2 PM!

Posted by Serena Y., MIA’s Community Engagement Officer

Intern Insights

3 May

Hello again!

I can hardly believe it, but the first week of internship is over and I’ve managed to get quite a lot done. It’s been a productive week and I’m excited to move into the next phase of teacher resource development for the MIA.

After getting through some comprehensive literature about museum policy, programming, accessibility and governance, I jumped right into the best part about this internship—lesson planning! To be honest, it was a bit overwhelming at first, in terms of figuring out what grade level to start with, what direction to take with the lesson (Arts-based? Language-focused? History-oriented?), and making sure to include as many pertinent details and guidelines for teachers as possible. I decided to start with the grades I knew best—Junior-Intermediate. For those that may not be too familiar with teacher speak, that means grades 4-10. Luckily, I had the wonderful opportunity to experience teaching grades 4-8, so I was quite familiar with the general concepts and basic expectations covered in the curriculum.

Kamiks (Arctic snow boots made of animal skin) worn by Labrador Inuit

After consulting with my supervisor, Alysa, we decided a little “museum field trip” was required. On Wednesday, I shadowed a docent at the Bata Shoe Museum giving a tour to a group of middle school students. It was truly fascinating to see how an everyday item that we sometimes take for granted, like footwear, can have an extraordinary history and offers rich insights into the culture that produced it. My visit here also reinforced the importance of artifact-based teaching and learning as an excellent way for students to develop multidisciplinary skills. It’s certainly a learning model that the Bata Shoe Museum and the MIA have nurtured successfully via their docent program.

With some research of my own, and a few great online sources recommended to me by Alysa, I was able to pull together several arts-based lesson plans for grades 4-12 with cross-curricular connections to Social Studies, Language and even Science. The next step will be to edit, polish and tack on assessment guides to these materials before getting a stamp of approval from the Museum.

More updates to come during week 2!

– Posted by: Aviva German, MIA’s Educational Intern

Introducing Our New Educational Intern!

29 Apr



My name is Aviva German and I’m the newest member of the MIA team! Over the next month, I’ll be working here at the museum as an Educational Intern. As a teacher candidate from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto, and a previous volunteer at the museum, I’m thrilled to come back and begin my internship at this one-of-a-kind site!

I’m looking forward to developing and sharing a variety of exciting pre- and post-museum visit materials and outreach kits, in alignment with provincial curriculum expectations, to complement any school group visit to the MIA. My goal is to provide educators with the tools they need to begin the museum experience inside the classroom, and encourage students to continue exploring critical themes related to Aboriginal peoples and cultures following their visit.

I hope these materials will be prove to be an invaluable resource for teachers and students alike!

– Posted by: Aviva German, MIA’s Educational Intern

Be Part of MIA: Adopt an Object

11 Jan


This year, MIA is  really excited to launch a new fundraising program: Adopt an Object!

Supporters of art made by Inuit can now select a piece of the museums Permanent Collection currently on display and symbolically “adopt” that piece for a one year term. MIA’s staff members have selected some of their favourite objects as candidates for adoption based on their unique characteristics, notable history and impressive craftsmanship. Each of these pieces will be highlighted in future blog posts, so be sure to check back in and see our selection.

The ‘Adoption Package’ includes:

  • a photograph and description of the piece you have chosen to adopt, which you can proudly display in your home, office or classroom
  • names of individuals will be entitled to have their names listed as Adopters on the object labels within the museum space
  • recognition on our websites Donors’ page
  • name included in the museum’s Annual Report
  • invitation to a special cocktail reception to thank all participants for their generous contributions to the museum
  • additional programming opportunities are also available upon discussion with the Associate Curator Alysa Procida

All funds raised from this initiative will go directly into the educational programming and continued preservation of MIA’s collection. As a public institution that holds its work in public trust, conservation of the museum’s collection is one of MIA’s top priorities. This is especially true for those objects made out of sensitive materials such as ivory, textile or paper. At the same time, MIA is southern Canada’s only museum devoted exclusively to art made by Inuit, meaning that the museums ability to effectively offer engaging educational programming is crucial. Through the Adopt an Object program, staff hope to acquire resources to help us manage these challenges. This will allow us to continue to educate the public about the art and its conservation.

Adoption Rates:

  • Small stone, antler and ivory pieces                                              $150
  • Medium stone, antler and ivory pieces                                         $300
  • Large stone, antler and ivory pieces                                              $500
  • Ceramic pieces                                                                                   $200
  • Wall hangings and soft sculpture works                                       $200
  • Prints and textile pieces                                                                   $200
  • Prints and Wall hangings made by Master Artists                     $700
  • Sculptures made by Master Artists                                                $1,000

All donors adopting an object will be issues a tax receipt. Rates are established based on the material and size of the artifact being adopted. After the priority works listed above have been adopted, additional opportunities will become available.

We thank all those that choose to support us in this endeavor by adopting an object. It is through the generous contributions of such individuals that we are able to further our mission: “to ethically acquire, conserve, research, communicate and exhibit for the purpose of study, education and enjoyment, material evidence of the history of Inuit art and culture in the Canadian Arctic”.

Posted by: Brittany Holliss, MIA’s Visitor Services Officer


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