Grant Projects Connect Young Students to Historic Sites through Achievements of Women

March 19, 2024 by Chris Morris and Valerie Balint

During Women’s History Month, the National Trust for Historic Preservation is delighted to announce the third round of Dorothy C. Radgowski Learning Through Women’s Achievement in the Arts grants to four Historic Artists' Homes and Studios (HAHS) sites. The projects in this latest round of grants will receive a total of $71,000 in awards this March, continuing and expanding the successful partnership between the Where Women Made History program and HAHS to engage young students in the lives and work of women at historic places.

Thanks to a generous expanded gift from our lead donor, the National Trust has now provided nearly $190,000 to fund creative new student- and family-based STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) educational programming at 11 sites across the HAHS network.

“We are so fortunate to have a donor who understands the importance of this type of groundbreaking educational programming,” said Chris Morris, senior director of preservation programs at the National Trust and leader of Where Women Made History. ”As part of our larger commitment to increasing gender equity in our work, these grant projects are changing the ways in which the public--particularly young people--encounter women’s stories and achievements at historic places.”

“All of the projects funded by the Radgowski grants will become part of a virtual casebook of educational models for historic sites that the National Trust will document and share widely later this year,” added Valerie Balint, director of HAHS. “These grant awards and resulting projects are impactful for the entire network of HAHS sites and beyond. They provide critical funds and important programmatic examples for engaging young students - something sites throughout the country are striving to do. “

The four projects funded in this latest grant round showcase very different types of female artists across the country, drawing on their personal histories and the intersection of the arts and sciences to examine complex issue of identity, self-reliance, social advocacy, the relationship between art and the natural environment, and much more:

Alice Austen House exterior

photo by: Floto & Warner/Alice Austen House

Alice Austen House (Staten Island, New York) for “Alice Austen’s Lens: Bringing the Mobile Photography STEAM Wagon to PS 59: The Harbor View School.” The Alice Austen House will retrofit and transform a mobile food pantry truck into a “STEAM Wagon,” a mobile classroom and photographic lab. Through a six- week intensive residency program delivered to every grade level at the nearby PS 59 on Staten Island, students will look closely at the life and artwork of Alice Austen (1866-1952), one of America’s first female photographers who produced over 7,000 photographs of a rapidly changing New York City through the lens of her lesbian identity. Students will learn how Austen and her female peers broke boundaries of acceptable female roles and created groundbreaking art and inventions; will explore a range of photographic techniques from the Victorian era guided by teaching artists; and create an exhibition of their own photography.

Elisabet Ney Museum Exterior HERO

photo by: Elisabet Ney Museum

Elisabet Ney Museum (Austin, Texas) for “Breaking the Mold: Mobile Hands-On Art Crates Featuring Art, History, and Science Programs.” Elisabet Ney (1833-1907) was a German-born, emigree sculptor who defied societal norms in the 19th century and broke down barriers for future women artists. This program is designed to address the shortfall of arts education in local public schools by providing comprehensive materials, along with qualified museum education staff, to lead classroom discussions and guide K-5 students through a series of three hands-on activities. Working with a science teacher and an arts education coordinator, Ney Museum staff will create curricula and three different traveling Art Crates focused on distinct aspects of Ney’s story as a suffragist living and working in a male-dominated sculpting field, and her story as an immigrant. Ney’s process as an artist, her social advocacy, her rightful place in Texas history, plus her admiration of the natural world will be evident in the out-of-the box designs and innovative object-centered teaching lessons in each of the Art Crates.

The exterior of the Pond Farm barn.

photo by: Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods

Pond Farm Pottery (Guerneville, California) for “4th Graders Explore Design, Physics, and Nature at Marguerite Wildenhain's Pond Farm Pottery.” For decades Pond Farm Pottery was the studio and home of artist and educator Marguerite Wildenhain (1896-1985), the first female master potter trained at the Bauhaus in 1925. This project for local 4th grade students will consist of field trips to Pond Farm Pottery that connect the artistic concepts of texture, form, and color with Wildenhain’s legacy and themes of resilience and perseverance. Students will learn from Wildenhain’s philosophies and teaching pedagogy and strengthen their observational skills by learning from a pottery educator demonstrating throwing a pot on one of the kick wheels; exploring patterns, colors, and forms found in nature; creating their own work with clay; and sharing what they learned. Ultimately this pilot project will be expanded from two local school districts to nearly 40 other schools.

Front of Frelinghuysen Morris House & Studio, Lenox, Massachusetts

photo by: Gavin Pruess/ ©Frelinghuysen Morris House & Studio, Lenox, Massachusetts

Frelinghuysen Morris House & Studio (Lenox, Massachusetts) for “Suzy's Palette: Exploring Abstract Color Relationships with Personal and Mathematical Insights.” By examining the paintings of opera singer and abstract artist, Suzy Frelinghuysen (1911–1988), the museum staff and local educators will create pilot workshops and a lesson plan for 4th and 5th graders that uses math as a method to teach students to appreciate and understand the color proportions and formal composition principles in abstract art. The lesson plan will be developed over the course of 20-30 on-site student workshops, and the final lesson plan will become part of a toolkit for educators that contains all project research, along with clips of a new video that will provide an overview of the House & Studio, Suzy’s story and her art, and “how to” guidance for teachers or parents undertaking the lessons outlined in the toolkit.

Every place has a woman's story to tell. Through Where Women Made History, we are identifying, honoring, and elevating places across the country where women have changed their communities and the world.

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