The Columbia Museum of Art's Glenna Barlow named 2020 SCAEA Museum Educator of the Year

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The Columbia Museum of Art's Glenna Barlow named 2020 SCAEA Museum Educator of the Year
CMA Curator of Education Glenna Barlow. Photo credit: Drew Baron.

COLUMBIA, SC.- The Columbia Museum of Art announced that the South Carolina Art Education Association has bestowed its 2020 Museum Educator of the Year Award upon Glenna Barlow, CMA curator of education. Barlow was recognized at the 2020 SCAEA Virtual Conference on November 21 alongside other honorees.

“We all know the great work Glenna does at the CMA, but we are so proud her colleagues from across the state recognize her commitment to advancing museum education in South Carolina and beyond,” says Jackie Adams, CMA director of art and learning. “I am continually impressed by her unwavering dedication, excellence, and passion for growing museums as valuable learning spaces for all.”

An experienced museum educator as well as a trained teacher, Barlow earned her M.S. in elementary education with a specialization in the arts from the University of Mary Washington and her M.A. in art history from Virginia Commonwealth University, specializing in South Asian and Islamic art. She has served as a Fulbright Nehru Scholar in India, where she conducted research on ephemeral art created for festivals.

Currently in her sixth year at the CMA, Barlow is the museum’s lead educator, planning and overseeing the diverse educational offerings the museum provides to its community, from pre-K-12 students and educators to lifelong adult learners and the general public. She manages the Docent Corps, the museum’s 50-person-strong group of specialized volunteers who lead interactive tours and studio programs for all ages, and creates and executes ongoing academic tour and training programs spanning multiple exhibitions annually as well as the CMA collection.

Gladys’ Gang, one of Barlow’s signature programs, is a preschool program with a devoted base of dozens of families who regularly express their deep appreciation for fostering young art lovers before they enter the classroom.

In this particularly challenging year, Barlow adeptly redesigned strategies and approaches to meet educators and learners where they are — online. Her ability to creatively reshape content while successfully engaging educators was evident in such relevant and timely webinars as Doing The (Art)Work: Building an Anti-Racist Curriculum, Kickstart Your Virtual Art Class, and Fighting Fatigue with Digital Engagement. Each received rave reviews and global attendance as well as the attention of other museums including the Phillips Collection, whose staff have been developing their own DEAI education curriculum.

While her stellar academic programs define her successful outcomes as a museum educator, Barlow centers her work in deeper education strategies and methodologies that underpin effective museum education practices, in particular visual literacy and arts integration, highlighting the advantages of a multidisciplinary approach to learning. One of her primary goals during her time at the CMA has been to encourage teachers of all levels and disciplines, not just art teachers, to see the museum as a resource for both themselves and their students.

“Many students have grown up visiting the CMA through school field trips,” continues Adams. “Glenna’s work continues to honor this legacy through traditional educational practices but also through new and relevant work such as Diversity, Equity, Access and Inclusion, social and racial justice, adaptive virtual learning and resource models, and strong statewide educational partnerships.”

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