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AT THE MUSEUM

A refreshed vision in store at the School at Newport Art Museum

As we move through the final days of summer toward fall, the start of school is on everyone's mind and the School at the Newport Art Museum has been experiencing an overhaul of its own as it transitions under the supervision of recently hired director of education and Rhode Island native Kameko Branchaud.

From its inception and founding in 1912, the Art Association that was to grow to become the Newport Art Museum, saw the importance of not just staging engaging (and occasionally provocative) exhibitions of contemporary artists, but also providing educational opportunities for the surrounding artistic community of all experience levels. As founder Maud Howe Elliott observed: “Perhaps no work that the association has accomplished is quite so valuable as that of the school.”

With artists such as John and Maud Howe Elliott, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (whom the museum will be highlighting with an exhibition of her sculptural work this April), Howard Gardiner Cushing and William Morris Hunt in their founding roster, the association had the perfect guiding voices to ensure this happened. Classes began one year after the founding, initially led by John Elliot and Helena Sturtevant and held in William Morris' studio until the purchase of the Griswold House.

Sitting on the corner of the museum campus at the intersection of Downing and Liberty streets, the School at Newport Art Museum has been offering education opportunities for museum members and the public (young and old) since its erection in 1998. Over the years, the school has had the good fortune to develop and flourish under its leadership, and it has now found a fresh new voice to carry on and build upon the good work it has done up to this point.

After an exhaustive search, the museum has appointed Kameko, a RISD Teaching + Learning in Art + Design graduate. Kameko returns to the Ocean State from Salem, Massachusetts, where she was most recently working for Peabody Essex Museum, developing and implementing community partnership programs, co-producing educator trainings, and relaunching a summer camp.

Kameko grew up partially in Glocester and has since spent time in California, Washington, Rhode Island, New York, Guam and Massachusetts. It was during her childhood in Rhode Island, though, when she discovered her love of museums in two trips made to RISD with her father and brother. Later, she discovered her love for youth work and community-based programs during her time working with Providence After School Alliance. After graduating from RISD, she realized museums were the perfect context in which she could run arts-based programs, with and for local and global communities.

Happy to be back home in Rhode Island, Kameko is excited to join the Museum staff and be a part of the development and growth taking place on the campus. As an educator, Kameko is committed to building inroads into the arts for those who are underrepresented in the field. She was attracted to the museum's mission “to champion a provocative diversity of creative voices and experiences within an historic Newport setting, thus sparking reflection inspiration, discovery, and connection to our self, our community, and our world.” To that end, when asked about her vision for the education department, she quickly identified inclusion and access as keys, and also voiced the importance of the collection in creating robust, memorable, art experiences.

While education has long been a priority for the Museum, so too has inclusiveness (something which will definitely continue under Kameko's leadership). As Maud Howe Elliott observed in an early annual report, “Our strength lies in the fact that we are truly a representative association, including people of every age and every sort of income, that we welcome with equal cordiality all sorts and conditions of men, women and children, asking only one thing, that they come to us in the same spirit of devotion to the cultivation of artistic endeavor that inspired our founders.”

Jump into the school spirit with an art class this Fall. Registration opens soon at newportartmuseum.org. Call 848-8200, or stop by the Art Museum at 76 Bellevue Avenue for up to date information.

Sitting on the corner of the museum campus at the intersection of Downing and Liberty streets, the School at Newport Art Museum has been offering education opportunities for museum members and the public (young and old) since its erection in 1998.

The Newport Art Museum continues to see the importance of having engaging exhibitions of contemporary artists, but also of providing educational opportunities for the surrounding artistic community of all experience levels. [NEWPORT ART MUSEUM PHOTO]

Kameko Branchaud has been hired as the education director and is committed to building inroads into the arts for those who are underrepresented in the field. [NEWPORT ART MUSEUM PHOTO]

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