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The World Is Your Museum

Georgia Mills Jessup became director of the pilot program, “The World Is Your Museum,” in 1972, while serving as Assistant Supervisor of Art in the District of Columbia Public Schools. She coordinated with many museum educators in metropolitan Washington, DC to develop a system-wide art education model. One of those leaders was Zora Felton at the Anacostia Neighborhood Museum (renamed the Anacostia Community Museum in 2006), with whom Jessup had previously worked in her role as the Museum's first artist-in-residence from 1968 to 1970.

A photo shows a woman standing in side profile. She holds a paintbrush and touches up a woman's portrait on a mural.

Artist-in-residence Georgia Mills Jessup paints a portrait of Director of Education Zora Felton on a mural at the Anacostia Neighborhood Museum's garden wall in August 1970. Anacostia Community Museum, Smithsonian Institution. (acma_01-JK109-S)

The three-year program recalled an innovative arts curriculum created by Jessup's artistic ancestor, Thomas W. Hunster, almost a century earlier, which offered art instruction at every grade level. Over the next three years, 13 schools, 14 teachers, and 1,545 students participated in the project, which also involved the National African Art Museum, National Gallery of Art, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art. School groups came to visit Anacostia Neighborhood Museum exhibitions, including Blacks in the Westward Movement and Black Women: Achievement Against the Odds, and kits were distributed to schools who could not visit. One of those kits included slides with examples of Jessup’s artwork, including the limestone figure previously displayed at her solo exhibition at The Potter’s House in 1964.

Zora Felton, Cleopatra Lawton, and Nannette Henry wrote a 96-page report on the program's effectiveness. It describes teaching DC school students, along with their teachers, how the world can become their museum. Appendices detail, for example, artworks children viewed and those they created, inspired by visits to museums as well as to the Blue Ridge mountains and the Smithsonian's National Zoo.

In 2022, children continue to benefit from this project. The National Children’s Museum, founded in 1974 as the Capital Children’s Museum, emerged from “The World Is Your Museum.”

Resource

Lawton, Cleopatra, Zora Felton, and Nannette Henry. “The World Is Your Museum: Title III Project of the District of Columbia Public Schools Evaluation, Final Report: 1975-76." July 1976. DOI: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED130951.

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