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Vatican exhibition to offer special events for children
By MICHAEL GAFFNEY LubbockOnline.com

South Plains children will have several opportunities to gain a unique perspective on the Vatican Exhibition scheduled in Lubbock next year, said a Vatican Exhibit 2002 Foundation official.

Sometime in the spring, educational guides related to the frescoes from the Vatican Museums will be available for teachers to use in their classrooms. The guides will be offered via an Internet site, said Lee Brodie, chair of the education steering committee for the Vatican Exhibit foundation.

Additionally, a block of 10 days has been allotted for classroom visits to the Museum of Texas Tech, where the 31 priceless frescoes from Rome will be displayed, and a resident art program is in development to give students an opportunity to see how frescoes are made, Brodie said.

"We are developing study guides for elementary and secondary school students," she said, "so when they come to the exhibit they can get more out of the experience."

"We hired four teachers from Lubbock Independent School District who are in the process of writing a study guide that will incorporate the history of medieval times, the culture of the period as well as the art."

Brodie, curator of education for the Museum, said that the two guides would be written in broad terms to allow teachers to modify lessons for their particular curricula.

"The focus will be world history and art," she said.

About 12,000 tickets were issued for school children to visit the Museum during the first two weeks in September, Brodie said, "and we have students coming from Oklahoma, as well as many from LISD and the Lubbock-Cooper Independent School District."

A few student-group tickets are still available, she said.

The foundation committee hopes to have a fresco specialist demonstrate how fresco art is created during a one-week exhibit in July, to be held in the Helen DeVitt Sculpture Court, Brodie said.

"It's not a done deal but we're hoping to offer that experience," she said.

"We have a well-known West Coast artist in mind, but we're looking for funding resources for that event."

Two summer classes will focus on the Vatican Museums exhibition.

"The classes will be related to medieval times and the students' art works will incorporate that time period in their themes," Brodie said.

The youth classes are scheduled for June 18 -28 and for July 9 -19 at the Tech Museum, she said.

"It's a two-week morning program for five- to 12-year-olds," Brodie said. "We usually have about 400 kids per class and it's for any student who wants to attend."

The summer courses are one-hour classes on subjects including science, art, and history and, corollary to the Vatican Exhibition, medieval culture, she said. Classes meet Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon.

"The classes are age-appropriate, and next year we're going to have a kindergarten course as well as courses for grades two, four, five and six," Brodie said.

The fee is $20 per class and advance registration is required, she said.

People can access registration forms as well as the teaching guides on our Web site at www.ttu.edu/~museum sometime in the spring," she added.

Two other programs related to the Vatican exhibit will be incorporated into the traditional Evening Bedtime at the Museum program, which starts July 11, 2002, and ends Aug. 15, she said. The second program, called Saturday at the Museum, is a program designed for children and their families, Brodie continued.

"There will be two Saturday at the Museum programs," she said. "Those will be Saturday art classes from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m." beginning July 27 and Aug. 17. The first Saturday venue will be titled "Saturday With the Frescoes," and the second will be called "Traditions and Renewal."

Both are free of charge and both will incorporate the frescoes - for example, participants may learn the technique of fresco painting or create something reflective of the medieval art depicted on the ancient fragments, Brodie said.

"Whatever they create and take away will remind them of the frescoes," she said.

To register for a Saturday class, call Brodie at 742-2432.

The exhibit foundation's education steering committee is hoping to involve several civic and religious organizations in Lubbock to broaden the educational opportunities for children, said Kae Hentges, committee member.

"I'm hoping there will be programming from the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra or the Lubbock Youth Symphony, the orchestra's outreach program, as well as involvement from various art galleries in Lubbock," Hentges said. "I would like to see programming both in the arts and in music throughout the community which reflects the time period when the frescoes were painted."

She hopes local artists will volunteer to provide lecture series addressing the 11th and 12th century cultures, Hentges said.

"I would like to see lectures that would talk about the things that are the same and the things that are different," she said. "I mean, how is art different today than it was then; what was art then; what was music; and how does it differ today? There are all kinds of interesting comparisons that could be explored."

Hentges added, "I would like to see some emphasis placed on what was happening in the Western Hemisphere at that time compared to what was happening in Middle and Central America and the Eastern Hemisphere, so the kids could gain a broader understanding of the world."

The exhibition is imbuing Lubbock with a prestige that dumbfounds many statewide, nationally and worldwide, Hentges said.

"The only two Vatican exhibits scheduled next year are one in Montreal, and one in Lubbock," she said. "And many people I've spoken to -- after I tell them a Vatican Museums exhibit is scheduled in Lubbock, have said incredulously "Lubbock?'

"And I just smile and say, 'Yes, Lubbock.' It's great for the city."

The nature of the exhibit, with its religious images that date back 800 to 900 years, lends itself to reflection and contemplation, she said.

After reading a Harvard report that concluded children in America spend, on average, 6 hours and 43 minutes per day on media like television, radio, video games, movies and computers, Hentges sees a potential value intrinsic to the Vatican exhibit.

"Isn't this a nice opportunity for children to see the goodness and the finest side of the human spirit," she asked. "These frescoes may give them pause, they may take the children back to a quieter time. And wouldn't that be nice?"




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