When Alice Austen turned 11 years old in 1877, she received a camera from her Uncle Oswald. It allowed her to express her inner thoughts and feelings; it allowed her to see the world in a new light. It enriched her life and her images continue to enrich ours. Our ambition is for our education programs to play the part of Uncle Oswald and to introduce the camera and its creative possibilities to anyone from school children to senior citizens.
Over the past decade, the Alice Austen House has slowly but methodically built an impressive range of education programs. We began with school programs for grades 3 to 5, and quickly added summer camps. Four years ago, we began to offer Teen Studios; two years ago we inaugurated our Senior Citizen Program; and last year, we launched a pinhole camera project as well as an immigration program.
Our education programs are built on three pillars: learning how to use the camera, learning to look, and learning to express. The strength of these pillars depends on the program: seniors need more help learning how to use the camera, and school children need more help expressing themselves.
We offer three basic school programs:
Alice Austen, Photographer; Meet Alice Austen; and Through Alice's Eyes
These programs can take place in the school or in the Austen House, grades 3-5.
The programs take 75 minutes
These programs meet NYS standards S.S - #1, 2, 3 Language Arts- #E2, E3, E4 The Arts- #1, 2, 3, 4
We have discovered that schools and teachers often ask us to develop classroom-specific programs, which we are always happy to do. So although the content varies, all programs include a few basic components: a short history of Alice Austen, looking at and discussing her photos, and learning how to use a digital camera. The most time, however, is spent on taking photos. We recently introduced “The best part of me,” where students are asked to photograph the part of themselves that they like the most. They are also asked to write a paragraph explaining what it is about that part that they like. Since digital cameras make it easy to capture dozens and dozens of images—especially compared to Austen’s glass plate technique—great emphasis is placed on reviewing, editing, and selecting.
During their visit to the Austen House, students are asked to choose their favorite photograph in the temporary exhibit on view. They are asked to write a paragraph explaining why it is their favorite photo and present their view to the class.
Every second Saturday of every month, we hold a Teen Studio at the Austen House. Our Studios provide teens with an opportunity to develop an interest, to find something healthy to be passionate about. Furthermore, many teenagers find it difficult to verbalize their feelings, sometimes because they do not really understand or know what they feel. Photography offers a mean of expression. And we have found that many of our students find it easier to express anger, frustration, or contentment and happiness by using a camera.
We offer five senior citizen programs, each with about 12 participants. Of the four sessions, three take place in a community center and one at the Alice Austen House. Participants learn to use the digital camera, how to capture an image, as well as critique. Participants also bring their own photographs and discuss their meaning and importance.
Summer Camps (ages 5-17)
Say Please, Say Thank You (ages 5 - 7) July 15 - 19, from 10:00am to 12:00pm
Social Etiquette Through Fun and Games (ages 8 - 13) July 22 - 26, from 9:30am to 12:00pm
Fun With Pinhole and Digital Photography (ages 6 - 11) July 29 - August 2, from 9.30am to 12.30pm
Teen Photography Camp (ages 12 - 17) August 5 - 9, from 2:00pm to 4:00pm
Pinhole Camera Education Program
The Alice Austen House Museum has developed a pinhole camera education program. This program enables us to participate in the Worldwide Pinhole Day, and it enables us to add a pinhole camera component to our existing educational program.
Alice Austen and Immigration: Connecting the Past to the Present through Photography
This is an integrated social studies and art program for fifth grade classes that introduces students to Alice Austen, immigration and photography. The students analyze Alice Austen’s immigration and quarantine photographs by comparing them to the photographs of social reformers Lewis Hines and Jacob Riis and then stage their own point-of-view photographs. The project culminates with a photography exhibition of the students own photographs as well as photographs taken by Alice Austen, Lewis Hines, and Jacob Riis.
Community through Photography: Documenting the World Around Us
This is a 10 week, in-school literacy through photography program with special education first- second- and third-grade students. The students are introduced to photographer Alice Austen, stage their own photographs, put together books of their writings and photographs, and visit the Alice Austen House House. Our main target group for this project consists of three 12:1 classes with students from grades K-1, 2, and 3.
For more information, please contact Sara at 718 816 4506 x 10.
Our education programs are generously supported by: