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Educational Programs

The museum's educational philosophy supports the use of an informal learning environment of creative experiences which are designed to stimulate thought, imagination, and understanding in the arts and sciences through interaction. The museum believes that its collections and resources are valuable tools in the education of the area's population, and that linkages between the disciplines are important tools of learning.

The involvement of local communities and their resources in the design and presentation of exhibits and programming enhances interest. The educational offerings put forward programs and accompanying materials in conjunction with exhibitions. These programs and materials are made available to docents, classroom teachers, associated organized groups and the general public.

The museum is committed to serving a diverse, bilingual audience which includes a large population of children, senior citizens and family groups from both the U.S. and Mexico. The museum is also committed to reaching economically disadvantaged and rural audiences outside of the museum walls with mobile exhibits and programs. Since the museum regularly features an in-house exhibit primarily focusing on Mexican folk art, the grade school children on tour are exposed to traditions and customs which can be either a direct or indirect reflection of their own heritage. (About 90% of the touring school groups are of Hispanic ancestry.)

The museum's on-site educational programs range greatly in scope and format. Arts are spotlighted as are sciences, and many times the two are brought together. The theme of the gallery tours varies according to the exhibits on display. For example, when a selection of modern/abstract art is being shown, the docents educate the children about the differences between abstraction and realism. Their program includes hands-on activities and imagination building techniques. The museum has brought in exhibiting artists who lead workshops for all ages, and has both a resident scientist who does "Mr. Wizard" demonstrations as well as an in-house storyteller. Following is a brief rundown of programs available.

  • Tours - 2nd-5th grade docent-led tours on current exhibits. 3rd grade receives in addition a puppet show on prejudice and staying out of gangs. Docents are given lists of curricula topics at the beginning of the school year and are instructed on integrating them where possible. Unguided (self-guided) tours are also scheduled by various schools.
  • Sunday Fundays - programs, lectures, storytelling, films/videos, concerts, plays, dances, interactive demonstrations, and telescope observations.
  • Special Events - the Collage annual auction gala, field trips, exhibit openings, family fair, an Easter egg hunt, sustaining members/benefactors party.
  • Children's Classes - ongoing sessions in painting and design, "Funshops" and "Totstuffs" on topics such as watercolor, cats, math games, anatomy, abstract art, weather, chemistry, botany and pottery making. Summer sessions with the McAllen Parks & Recreation Department. Partnership with the library and the school district for the summer reading program.
  • Adult Classes - art workshops and a brown bag lunch video series, as well as classes on a variety of topics such as calligraphy, lacemaking, drawing, Mexican cookery, oil painting, photography, and Japanese art.
  • Meetings - the museum provides meeting space for many local organizations for a small charge, often free for other nonprofits. A few of the groups include the Society for Creative Anachronisms, a children's ecology group, the Frontera Audubon Society, the Junior League of McAllen, Valley Friends of Folk Art, the Hidalgo County Historical Society, the city police and fire departments.
  • Hands-On! - three different exhibits shown during the summer at the museum, from the traveling children's outreach exhibits such as bubble technology and recycling.

Schools which participate in guided and self-guided tours at MIM are given teacher packets ahead of time for each teacher. These packets contain information about the various exhibits, and a list of art and science activities which correlate to the exhibits. These activities are inter-disciplinary and tie in the state's mandated essential elements for each subject.  


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