According to Wiktionary, the term “throw down” was popularized in 1990s street culture, derived from the idiom throw down the gauntlet or “to issue a challenge,” also used in the sense of “to make a stand” or “to stand up and contribute something.” The term has been further popularized by the drama-filled televised cook-off competitions of chef Bobby Flay in his Food Network show called Throwdown, which always ends with his open challenge to all viewers: “Are you ready for a Throwdown?”
There have been throw downs in poetry, music, football, breakdancing, cooking, glee clubs, boxing, politics, and street fighting, but there has never been a throw down in museum teaching … until now! This month, ArtMuseumTeaching.com brings together 4 challengers and 1 museum for the first-ever “Museum Teaching THROW DOWN,” aimed at bringing out the best in experience, creativity, risk-taking, and experimentation.
- What: Museum Teaching THROW DOWN (Google+ Event Page)
- Where: American Folk Art Museum, New York City, 2 Lincoln Square (Columbus Ave + West 66th Street)
- When: Wed., February 26th, starting at 6:00pm
Four fierce educator/competitors will gather at the American Folk Art Museum on February 26th, prepared to “make a stand” and lead a gallery teaching experience of about 15-20 minutes each. Each educator will use the museum’s current special exhibition Folk Couture: Fashion and Folk Art to activate the audience in new and engaging ways. After each educator has completed their gallery experience, the audience then gets to decide who leaves as the winner of the first-ever Museum Teaching THROW DOWN.
Let’s meet the challengers…
As we start to get psyched-up about the upcoming THROW DOWN, I asked all the competitors to tell me why they are interested in this type of museum teaching challenge. So here is a little bit more about us, and why we’re doing this.
JEN OLENICZAK: Museum Hack-er and The Engaging Educator extraordinaire, working to rid the world of boring museum experiences for good. @TheEngagingEd
“So often we get caught up in what works — the gallery stops and activities that are tried and true in a given audience. Failure is a scary thing, and experimental implies a chance of failure. Through my work with the Engaging Educator and Museum Hack, I’m all about taking risks that have the capacity to either be massive failures or tremendous successes. If you are constantly trying not to fail, you’ll never succeed. The THROW DOWN for experimental museum teaching offers a platform to take a big risk with colleagues I respect — and to blow it up at the American Folk Art Museum.”
RACHEL ROPEIK: Real is a thing that happens to you when you mess with this titan of a museum educator who now hails from the Brooklyn Museum. @TheArtRopeik
“I’ve been a dancer for most of my life, but a lifetime of ballet and jazz classes do not a B-girl make. No, my forays (and yes, there have been several) into breakdancing haven’t scored me my own dance movie, but they’ve always been a blast. Why? Because they’ve always been about people getting together to throw down some moves and cheer each other on and have a good old-fashioned great time. So let’s do that in a museum. Let’s see some crazy cool art creations and some bad@$$ gallery teaching in action and make the museum the place for that collective sharing and cheering.”
“Breaking isn’t about meticulously planned choreography. It’s about feeling the music and trying things out and hearing the crowd roar when they love what you do. And OK, so maybe the crowd roar in the museum is going to have to be a little quieter, but I’m still ready to throw down some museum ed moves and shake it up and flow with some great colleagues and an eager audience. Bring it on!”
PJ POLICARPIO: Teaching his way across the Big Apple, this master-of-all-trades museum educator and community engager means business. @pjpolicarpio
“I do love a good challenge. I’m really interested in where this “throw down” is headed and would love to participate! An experimental museum teaching throw down is exciting because museum educators by nature are always on our toes. We are constantly challenged by a variety of factors and almost always rely on our myriad teaching tools/strategies combined with experience. This is a perfect challenge! Looking forward to collaborating on this project!”
MIKE MURAWSKI: Last but not least, the blogger who needs to put his money where his mouth is; the “Bobby Flay” of this Throw Down (FYI – Bobby Flay did lose many of his cooking throw downs; those were alway the best episodes, too). @murawski27
“I have been hankering for a first-ever Museum Teaching Throw Down, and am excited to launch this in the city that never sleeps. We all do teaching and touring in our ‘jobs,’ but we don’t get much time to truly play with our craft and experiment in fun and bold ways in a supportive environment outside our own institutions. I look forward to getting together with this terrifyingly fantastic group of New York City museum educators, and pushing ourselves in ways that are a bit outside the box. Let’s do this!”
Drinking About Museums
It doesn’t end there. After the THROW DOWN concludes around 7:30pm (if there is anyone still standing), we plan to head to nearby P.J. Clarke’s (44 West 63rd Street) for a Drinking About Museums hangout, meet-up, and discussion. There, we can celebrate the winner of the first-ever THROW DOWN, and decide whether we ever want to do this again. Even if you can’t make it to the American Folk Art Museum, we’d love to see you for a few drinks and some great conversation.
We hope to see you there at the American Folk Art Museum on February 26th and for the Drinking About Museums that follows! To stay up to date on any further details or event changes, connect with the Google+ Event page (let us know if you’re coming) and the join the ArtMuseumTeaching Google Community.
And, to all you museum educators out there, keep doing what you do. But ask yourself this … Are you ready for a Throw Down?