NC Museum of Art Partnership


December 9, 2011


Michelle Harrell, (919) 664-6853

NC Museum of Art Partnership Reaches Statewide Teen Audience through Online Courses

Together with the North Carolina Virtual Public School (NCVPS), the North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA) is pioneering new ways of offering creative arts education classes to students in every public high school in the state. This collaboration benefits schools by giving students an opportunity to engage with works of art at the Museum on a daily basis, regardless of geographic location or budgetary constraints.

“Many public schools don’t have the funding to staff and offer specialized art classes like the ones developed by the NCMA/NCVPS project,” explained Cathy Cindrich, NCVPS video editing instructor. “These courses are reaching students where they spend most of their free time—online.”

NCVPS, the second-largest virtual school in the nation, partners with schools throughout North Carolina to give students access to a 21st-century learning environment and help them prepare for college and beyond. As of September 2011, more than 18,000 students were enrolled in NCVPS semester courses and nearly 5,000 enrolled in yearlong courses.

“Through our partnership with NCVPS, we can reach thousands of students throughout the state, many of whom have never visited the Museum,” said Michelle Harrell, coordinator of teen and college programs at the NCMA. She added, “These collaborative courses are unique in that they use works of art at the Museum as catalysts for learning.”

“We work together to combine our best resources,” NCVPS Art Department Chair Deb Pylypiw added. “To ensure we are meeting our course objectives, the curriculum we develop undergoes an extensive evaluation process.”

The NCMA currently offers two NCVPS courses, Video Editing with a Renaissance Twist and Art of Game Design. Both courses incorporate object-based learning and high-tech, project-based online learning. As students make connections to works of art in the Museum’s collection, they develop creative thinking and problem-solving skills, and the projects they create—both individually and in collaboration with other students—allow them to experiment with new technology.

Students are supported in their coursework through NCMA lending libraries that provide them with cameras and other equipment, guest visits from Museum staff in online meetings with classes, and course-related special events at the Museum.

“I borrowed one of the Museum’s cameras over the summer to use in my online class, and it made my work so much easier to complete—and fun!” said Brendaly V., a student in the summer 2011 video editing course. “I appreciate that the NCMA loaned me a camera. I hope to buy one of my own someday, now that I know how cool it is and how great it works.”

Last spring, the NCMA celebrated the success of its first course in the collaboration, Video Editing with a Renaissance Twist, with a Renaissance-themed teen event at the Museum. The evening’s festivities included a blue-screen photo booth and a video competition featuring films created by students in the course.

Harrell said these end-of-course celebrations “recognize the students’ accomplishments and give them validation from their friends and family.” The on-site events also give students an opportunity to meet their classmates and instructors in person.

“Although the collaboration project is still in its early stages, we can already see the impact these courses have made on students who live hours away from the Museum,” Harrell said. One student’s family made a four-hour drive from the Outer Banks to Raleigh to attend the screening of the film she had made in the video editing class.

The most recent course in the NCMA/NCVPS collaboration, Art of Game Design, is now in progress. This multimedia course teaches the basic elements and thought processes of designing games, both digital (video games) and nondigital (board games, card games, etc.). Students explore works of art from the NCMA’s collection as they learn how the concepts of purpose, character and story development, and structure apply to both art and game design.

The Museum will host another teen event in spring 2012 to recognize students for their achievements in the new course and help them explore careers in art, game design, and museum-related fields. Additional courses are in development.

The North Carolina Museum of Art’s permanent collection spans more than 5,000 years, from ancient Egypt to the present, making the institution one of the premier art museums in the Southeast. The Museum’s collection provides educational, aesthetic, intellectual, and cultural experiences for the citizens of North Carolina and beyond. The 164-acre Museum Park showcases the connection between art and nature through site-specific works of environmental art. The Museum offers changing national touring exhibitions, classes, lectures, family activities, films, and concerts.

The Museum recently opened its new gallery building, home to the permanent collection. The North Carolina Museum of Art, Lawrence J. Wheeler, director, is located at 2110 Blue Ridge Road in Raleigh. It is the art museum of the State of North Carolina, Beverly Eaves Perdue, governor, and an agency of the Department of Cultural Resources, Linda A. Carlisle, secretary. Admission to the Museum’s permanent collection and Museum Park is free. Museum hours are Tuesday–Thursday and Saturday–Sunday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m.–9 p.m.; Closed Monday. For more information about the Museum, visit