MFA Teen program changes Boston teenager’s life
If you ever question how much good you do when you support the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, you should talk to Erica.
A bright, articulate and self-assured collegiate leader now, Erica is active in three campus organizations, volunteers as a high school mentor through a community task force, and is one of our most outgoing Ambassadors, working with visitors, volunteers and staff to maximize the MFA experience.
Just a few short years ago, though, Erica was so unmotivated that she kept to herself, doing “just enough to get by,” both in school and in life. “I didn’t see any point,” she says. “I never thought of doing extra stuff or getting a job.”
But then a teacher urged her to apply for a position on the MFA’s Teen Arts Council (TAC), a program specifically created to help Boston-area youth develop leadership skills and self-empowerment.
Comprised of 12 teens chosen from the Greater Boston area, the TAC puts teens to work side-by-side with Museum staff, where they learn about and do many things few people of their age ever have the opportunity to experience, whether that means helping plan a museum-wide event or – perhaps – writing a narrative about a work of art to be displayed next to that work in the gallery, lending a personal perspective.
Importantly, too, the TAC provides a forum where teens of differing backgrounds, beliefs and experiences find the commonality between them, learning to work towards “harmony through diversity.”
As Terence, a former TAC member who is now a student at Tufts University, puts it, “people don’t like talking about race, violence and other hard things. Art is like a bridge between viewpoints; it lets people discuss hard things in a nonthreatening way.”
“The MFA is for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities,” says Stephen Richardson, Teen Programs Manager, “and that includes teens.” “Our biggest goal is to show these future leaders that their voices, their opinions and their efforts matter...to the MFA, within their communities and throughout their lives.”
Years ago, Erica didn’t go to the MFA – even though she lived right across the street. “I thought it was for ‘other people’ – not people like me,” she says.
Because the Museum provides educational opportunities such as the TAC, though, Erica knows differently now; she knows the MFA is for people exactly like her – and you – and us all.
From the Last Issue
Conserving Art and Energy
Conservation--from restoring old works to ensuring that new art stays vibrant--is a large and important part of the Museum. So it will come as no surprise to learn the Museum is just as serious about conserving energy as it is about art.
Says Alton Davis, Electrical Supervisor at the MFA, "We have been implementing energy-saving lighting systems with lower wattage lamps and ballasts. We've also installed a new chiller for building cooling and larger motors with variable speed drives. This helps us reduce our electric demand for our buildings."