Arts & Culture

Middle schoolers will be curators in new UK Art Museum summer camp

Model of an art gallery sitting on a table with a ruler, a cup of pens, tape and a tape measure, with students standing in the background looking at an exhibit with their backs to the camera
The University of Kentucky Art Museum's inaugural summer camp, June 17-21, will expose middle school students to the art and science of exhibit curation. Photo provided by UK Art Museum

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 3, 2024) — When we see art on exhibit in a museum or gallery, we often don’t think about the decision making process of selecting artwork and how to properly display it. A new summer program for middle schoolers, offered by the University of Kentucky Art Museum, seeks to pull back the curtain on the how and why of planning an art exhibit. 

Representatives at the museum believe that informing students about the inner workings of the museum heightens the knowledge of the human effort that goes into their exhibitions, which can engender a more personable visitor experience, provoke an additional layer of critical thinking and model potential career paths. 

Called “Create and Curate,” this summer camp will run June 17-21 for students in grades 6 through 8. There is no session on June 19 in observance of Juneteenth. Campers will go behind the scenes and discover the secrets of the UK Art Museum’s collection, collaborate with peers to design exhibition layouts, coordinate with museum staff in a variety of roles and put on a showcase in the galleries for family and friends. 

Other activities include creating original sculptures for a “cabinet of curiosities,” crafting artwork miniatures for maquettes and staging personalized portrait photos. 

"Participants in the camp will have a unique opportunity to occupy our ground floor galleries while we are between exhibitions and get hands-on with all the aspects of putting on a museum show, bringing the playful and creative side of curation to the forefront,” said Dan Solberg, UK Art Museum’s curator of education. “Campers will participate in a week of art and museum-based activities and walk away with knowledge about how museums function, including staff roles that are normally behind-the-scenes." 

This is the inaugural edition of “Create and Curate,” and UK Art Museum Director Stuart Horodner says this initiative is part of the museum’s effort to reach new audiences and expand its educational programs. 

“The idea of a summer camp that uses our museum’s professional practices is very exciting and we hope Lexington families take advantage of this first time offer," Horodner said. 

Camp hours are 1-5 p.m. daily, and students must be picked up before 5:30 p.m. 

Early registration ends on June 10, but the museum will take registrations up to June 16 as space allows.  

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.