Ansel Adams: A Legacy – Calling all 5th Graders!

iPhone image with "Ansel" filter

Ever since I heard that an exhibit of 130 signed Ansel Adams photographs were going to be shown at the Missoula Art Museum (MAM), I wanted to be part of the experience. As it turns out, I get to be part of two cool experiences. I am beyond excited at the upcoming opportunity to be a docent for the Fifth Grade Art Experience, a program co-sponsored by MAM, Art Associates of Missoula, the Missoula Public Library and Missoula County Public Schools. Every fifth grade class in the county plus some from rural schools in Swan Valley, Darby and Alberton, Montana are invited to attend.


We’re going through docent training right now with Curator of Education, Renee Taffe at MAM, so that over the next 10 weeks, I’ll be prepared to join groups of 5th graders as they learn about the museum’s exhibits. I’ll especially enjoy introducing them to Ansel Adams’ amazing prints and talking to them about Ansel Adams, the person, the musician, the photographer. Can you imagine, 5th graders who were born during the digital camera boom – most of them don’t even know what a film camera is! Luckily I was able to find a box film camera, one like Ansel used when he was their age, and through the wonders of the internet, rolls of 120 film. This is show-and-tell at it’s best. It might not register with them now as profoundly as we might hope, but my goal is that someday they will look back and say, ‘Holy guacamole, when I was in 5th grade I saw 130 prints that were made and signed by Ansel Adams!’


Just being in the museum with these prints has been almost overwhelming for me. The more I learn about Ansel’s process and the intuition involved in his visualization, the more I realize that artist’s need to be allowed to create and taught how to begin to see. Opening the eyes of fifth graders to the possibilities of their own imagination is a gift I’m looking forward to sharing.