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   from the issue of November 10, 2005

Museum opens up to faculty


The Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery is offering an open invitation to educators across UNL.

Under a new initiative, "Forming American Identities," Dan Siedell, curator, said the museum will work with professors on ways to incorporate the Sheldon into their curricula. He said the museum will unveil the initiative during a presentation, 4 p.m. Nov. 15 at the Sheldon. All UNL faculty members are welcome.

"This is going to be a focal point for us to provide ways for the faculty to look at us as a resource," Siedell said. "We also have a goal of establishing some collaborative partnerships, working within and between colleges and departments, on some long term projects."

The Sheldon is currently used as a resource by a number of faculty members. Siedell said uses range from students simply writing about individual works to a Theatre 255 class using Sheldon art as inspiration for creative movement presentations.

"We have a theater professor, Brad Buffum, bringing his stage design students to the Sheldon for a behind-the-scenes tour," Siedell said. "From their perspective, they are looking at how we create our display spaces, the movement, physical labor and mechanics of how we operate.

"That concept of looking at a space and how we use objects to create an experience is really interesting and unique."

UNL biologist John Janovy also offers a unique twist, mixing the Sheldon into his lesson plans. According to Siedell, Janovy has students study a plant on campus, getting to know all aspects of environment and how it interacts with the ecosystem. Students then go to the Sheldon and examine a particular painting and write a paragraph on how it interacts with the environment.

"What we are hoping for is to create these kind of unexpected connections," Siedell said. "There is a tremendous amount of creativity out there and we want to help create situations in which the Sheldon can contribute to teaching and instruction at UNL."

In "Forming American Identities," the Sheldon has scheduled a series of exhibitions that will connect museum programs and artists to teachers, departments and instructional programs at UNL. Those exhibitions will be discussed during the Nov. 15 presentation.

Sheldon officials plan to use upcoming exhibitions as examinations of how artists express their identities and share formative influences - culture, gender, places and experiences - within their work.

Siedell said the Sheldon is currently seeking an ITLE grant to help fund the initiative. However, Siedell said the program would continue with or without those funds.

"We've set this idea out there, and if nobody uses it, then it's not used," Siedell said. "But it has not been a waste of time. This is something that the Sheldon will continue to do.

"It's just a way we can participate in the bigger picture here on campus."

For more information on "Forming American Identities" or the Sheldon, call 472-2461 or go online to



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