rachel s ropeik


An online hub for some of my on and offline projects

} museum education      } cultural experiments

     } digital technology          } adventures in the art world

interpretation & engagement

Writings/creations/experiences to help people engage with art and the world


Summer of Know (Guggenheim Museum)

GOAL: to stimulate museum visitors' thoughts about current world events during extended hours programming in the summer of 2017

} interdepartmental effort between Education and Curatorial

} themed conversations between activists and artists held in the museum's cafe space for a casual, thought-provoking discussion of art in the contemporary world

Eric Ngan's sketchnotes of the Summer of Know conversation between artist Mariam Ghani and Vincent Warren (Center for Constitutional Rights).

... circle through New York Call to Action (Guggenheim Museum)

GOAL: to empower museum staff to listen to visitors; to engage visitors in discussion about museums' role in the world

} offered leadership to an interdepartmental team planning how to respond to St Philips Church's Call to Action (focusing especially on the section "Always be just as ready to listen as you are emboldened to speak out for or against others.")

} hired Keonna Hendrick to train museum staff on how to listen to discussions of sensitive topics

} 40 hours of museum staff listening to visitors' answers to the question "What roles can cultural institutions play in times of social and political change?"

The biggest takeaway for me from this experience was the act of listening... the importance of ... being open to ... opinions regardless of your own... We need more communication that is free from judgment and mutually respectful.
— museum staff member

Listening in action (photo: Jon Rubin © Jon Rubin)

One Hour, One Object (Guggenheim Museum)

GOAL: to facilitate deeper, slower looking for museum visitors

} every Wednesday's free-with-admission public tour focuses on a single work of art for a guided exploration with focus and attention

} trained educators in how to approach and lead these sessions, as well as leading them directly

} built a loyal following for these tours, as people return specifically on Wednesdays to experience this type of gallery conversation

A One Hour, One Object tour led by educator Missy Lipsett (seated on the floor) focusing on Pablo Picasso's Accordionist.

"The one hour public education sessions ... prompted me to become a member. Being educated in so many formats on specific works, time periods, artists makes the museum so much more meaningful. I now look for these experiences at every museum and feel it is the most relevant and wonderful way to gain a true appreciation for the Guggenheim. BRAVO!"
— Guggenheim museum visitor

Changeover's Dilemma (Guggenheim Museum)

GOAL: to explore how a museum might present the periods between shows when the "behind the scenes" work of deinstallation/installation is happening in public

} collaboration with Pratt Institute's Avant-Garde Museum Education students

} students created prototypes of an evergreen card and in-gallery experiences to make the Guggenheim's "Changeover" period between shows (when the famous ramps are not always accessible) a unique visit focus, rather than a point of frustration

One visitor's map of the experiences throughout our Changeover-focused tour of the museum, using lines, sketching, and words to convey the art, movement, and sensory impressions of the building.

this was probably one of the most valuable learning experiences I had during my studies at Pratt.
— Pratt Institute grad student
We thought of... Changeover as a valuable and exciting opportunity to teach visitors about museum practices, rather than a hindrance to viewing the art- and this is how it was narrated by Rachel in her GLEx [Gallery Learning Experience] as well!
— Pratt Institute grad student

"Take a Closer Look" Wall Labels (Brooklyn Museum)

GOAL: to encourage visitor response, observation, and dialogue

} additions to exhibition wall text for Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic

} intended for an "arts newcomer" audience

MuseumEd Mashup (Ogden Museum of Southern Art)

GOAL: to encourage museum educators toward a spirit of experimentation, spontaneity, and play in museum galleries

} for educators attending the National Art Education Association national convention

} "experimenters" were assigned to small groups focused on individual artworks, then tasked with creating a 5-minute experience to engage an audience with that artwork, which they proceeded to facilitate

Choose Your Own (Art) Adventure (Brooklyn Museum)

GOAL: to prompt close looking, reflection, curiosity, excitement, conversation in an unexpected, fun way

} for educators attending a free open-house event

} participants reported their mood to "the oracle" staff member (shout out to collaborator Sam Serrano) and received a color-coded set of artwork cards around one of these themes:

  • Participatory
  • Immersive
  • Talkative
  • Nostalgic
  • Intricate
  • Custom (compiled on the spot)

"Analogue Instagram" In-Gallery Activity for Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe (Brooklyn Museum)

GOAL: to explore perceptions and emotions surrounding high heels

} created by an interdepartmental team (Education, Exhibitions, Design, Technology, Curatorial)

} two-part activity:

  1. have your killer heels photographed at select events and tag them with 1 word
  2. use post-its and pencil to tag photos of other people's shoes

} reflections on this activity and the 17,500 Post-Its it went through are here, courtesy of Sara Devine

Gallery Teaching Marathon (Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego)

GOAL: to encourage museum pros to shake up their practice and reflect on a variety of ways to engage people with art

} a day-long program of gallery teaching from museum professionals from around the country

} my session was collaborative poetry, meet interpretive dance: a creative exploration of Richard Serra

Gallery Bingo (Brooklyn Museum)

GOALto encourage open-hearted, playful exploration of special exhibitions

} for educators attending a free open-house event

Sensory Tour (Brooklyn Museum)

GOAL: to explore one or two artworks through conversation, verbal description, and creative use of all five senses

} for members of the general public, including those with low or no vision

Museum Teaching Throw Down (various museums)

GOAL: to push museum education practice and share ideas and excitement

Round 1

} a competition of museum educators bringing their best experimental teaching techniques to engage 60+ museum professionals with the American Folk Art Museum's exhibition Folk Couture

my winning contribution: a "found fashion" catwalk show

Round 2

} continued the tradition with new educators and new teaching techniques in a new museum

} hosted by round 1 competitors to foster the continuation of throw downs that push the field forward

"Looking Closer" Wall Labels (Brooklyn Museum)

GOAL: to encourage visitor response, observation, and dialogue

} additions to exhibition wall text for Youth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties

} intended for an "arts newcomer" audience


Eye Spy Family Guide (Brooklyn Museum)

GOAL: to engage families with an exhibition in an interactive way

} a tactile guide to the themes of the exhibition Youth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties

} each card was printed with an image detail to hunt for on one side and some information and questions on the back

} intended for families with young children

Teaching Resources (Brooklyn Museum)

GOAL: to help K-12 teachers create inquiry-driven learning experiences with their students

Teaching Resources from the Courtauld Gallery

GOAL: to provide in-depth, supplementary background information for teachers of particular subjects