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The Maier celebrates 30 years of Art & SOL program

The Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College is celebrating its 30th anniversary as one of Lynchburg City Schools’ Partners in Education.

The partnership, launched in 1990 as a joint venture between LCS and the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance, creates links between the school system and area businesses, organizations, and institutions.

As part of its Art & SOL program, the Maier has offered free guided tours for all LCS fifth graders—and other area schools upon request—since 1993.

The tours are designed to be an extension of the classroom, centered on the Virginia Department of Education Standards of Learning (SOLs) objectives for visual arts, language, and social studies.

Throughout the tour, docents incorporate terminology from the Visual Arts SOLs, providing examples of how the elements of art and principles of design are used for artistic production and creative expression.

“The works of art included in the tour also provide a lens through which to discuss American history and culture,” said Laura McManus, the museum’s curator of education. “The tour is structured to encourage students to draw connections between concepts they’ve learned in the classroom and the art they experience at the Maier. It also exposes them to a diversity of ideas, peoples, places, and time periods.”

The tours help students develop critical thinking skills, McManus said. Docents ask them to share their observations and encourage them to make connections between the art and other disciplines.

This fall, McManus updated the tour to reflect recent changes made to the Maier’s galleries incorporating the work of more people of color, including African American and Indigenous artists.

“By including artists and representations of different ethnic groups, we provide inclusive and culturally relevant content and expand students’ perspective on American art and American history,” McManus said.

“We want to grow a new generation of museum visitors,” she said. “For many students, the Art & SOL Tour is their first visit to the Maier, and perhaps to an art museum. Many people feel intimidated by art museums. We hope the children leave the Maier feeling welcomed and excited to return with their families.”

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