Date of Degree

2-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Program

Liberal Studies

Advisor

Alberto Bursztyn

Subject Categories

Art Education | Cultural History | Modern Art and Architecture | Other Education

Keywords

museum education, art, veterans, Museum of Modern Art, rehabilitation

Abstract

From 1944–48 the Museum of Modern Art, New York (MoMA) offered free art classes to World War II veterans through an experimental educational initiative called the War Veterans’ Art Center. This project was run by Victor D’Amico, who served as the museum’s first Director of Education from 1937–69. Building on an existing institutional ethos of experimentation and civil service, D’Amico and his colleagues explored the role of creative engagement in facilitating the transition from military service to civilian life. As they experimented with new pedagogical approaches, they also worked to articulate and share their innovative methods with other professionals and volunteers, and to identify the relationship between their work, museum education practice in general, and rehabilitative services for veterans. This thesis outlines the development of the War Veterans’ Art Center and situates it within the context of MoMA as a young institution and D’Amico’s contemporaneous education programs. While the Center was defined by the particular institutional, societal, and political factors of its time, it nevertheless serves as a relevant example of adaptive, reflexive, socially-oriented practice, which, in the end, proved beneficial for participants, future education practice, and the institution as whole.

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