Anyone who has ever visited Loyola Marymount University’s campus knows this place is full of hidden delights. Last month, a group of third graders from Broadway Elementary in Venice visited LMU and discovered some of these tucked away gems, embarking on an adventurous day of art and discovery with a scavenger hunt and postcard art lesson, which sprung from a partnership between the Art History Program and William H. Hannon’s Archives and Special Collections.
Over one hundred 3rd graders participated in the field trip to LMU over the course of two days in May. Split into two groups, each day offered two educational experiences: the scavenger hunt of public art on campus, and a postcard art lesson in the library. Using the public art and architecture on the LMU campus, the kids had to answer questions to solve clues that, in the end, spelled out GO LMU LIONS. Working in groups of four students and one chaperone, the kids went to seven different “stations” on campus and learned not only about specific works of art, but also the mission of the university, its Jesuit heritage, and its mascot.
According to professor of art history, Kirstin Noreen, who developed the program and whose daughter attends Broadway Elementary, “We had several goals in creating the scavenger hunt. We wanted the kids to experience and explore a university campus while having fun in the process, and we wanted the kids to look carefully at works of art in order to understand material, technique, and the artist’s intention. As part of that process, we could introduce different terms (e.g. fresco, stained glass, wall paintings) as well as have the kids sketch works themselves.”
The children also honed new map-reading skills, having to navigate through the campus to find different works of art. The students visited many notable campus sites, and reflected on works with complex themes such as the concept of worship (the Sacred Heart Chapel), the role of a memorial (Will Pupa’s Ad Astra per Aspera), the function of a boundary or wall (the Berlin Wall fragment) or different ways of communicating (the Foley Tapestry).
In Archives and Special Collections, the children learned about the value of postcards by directly examining selections from LMU’s historic postcard collection. The children worked with postcards, some more than 100 years old, that depicted various scenes in Venice, including their school’s neighborhood. “The main goal of this portion of the day was to teach the kids about the value of primary sources,” said Noreen. “To accomplish this goal, the kids were given a brief lesson of the function and dating of postcards. They learned about how postcards have changed over time and how that information can provide clues to determine the period during which the postcards were created.”
After noting that following the pilot program with Broadway, a 4th-grade class from Playa Vista has also visited campus to participate in this inventive program, Noreen continued, “All in all, the field trip was deemed an incredible success, and we hope to continue to bring more of our local students to campus to explore LMU in this innovative way.”
Funding for the trip was provided by the College of Communication and Fine Arts as well as the William H. Hannon Library. In addition to Kirstin Noreen, Cynthia Becht and Rachel Wen-Paloutzian from Hannon Library Archives and Special Collections, and Anya Kavanaugh, a current Marital and Family Therapy graduate student, were instrumental in developing the program material and coordinating the day.