Arts in Education

Nathalie Ryan

Ed.M. AIE '02

Nathalie Ryan works at the National Gallery of Art in Washington- -"not to be confused," she notes, "with any of the Smithsonian museums." As organizer of "over 100 programs a year," she is hardly the royal lady of indolent leisure in this federally supported palace. "I don't even know where to begin to describe all the things I do here," she says. "Currently, I oversee Family and Youth Programs. This means that I coordinate (and teach) programs, focusing on the permanent collection and special exhibitions, for children ages 4–13. The art objects are central to all of our education programs, including studio workshops, family festivals, family concerts, community outreach drives, and a Stories in Art program."

Not only does Ryan organize and teach in all of these areas- -she also recruits, trains, and manages the artist-educators who work on these programs; writes publications for family audiences; and works with the publications and Web-site staff on the National Gallery's Children's Film Program, "attending international film festivals," she says, "to select films to screen in the Gallery's theater." In addition, she and her staff coordinate the High School Summer Institute, "an in-depth, behind-the-scenes summer program for a select group of high school students" from the District of Columbia. "I have learned a great deal about diplomacy," she says, "the press, security, federal budgets and policy, and exhibition funding."

Before her year at AIE (2001–2002), Ryan held curatorial internships at the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, Texas, and the National Gallery of Art, and worked in the education departments at the Dallas Museum of Art and the Allen Memorial Art Museum. With a B.A. and an M.A. in the history of art, she decided to attend the AIE Program "to take my career in a different path"- -away from museums, she admits, and more into schools and after-school programs. "But, alas, here I am at the National Gallery. I can't seem to escape the museum world!"

You don't get the impression that she regrets it much, however, when Ryan visited Boston in the spring of 2005 for the annual meeting of the National Art Educators Association. One evening in the Gutman Conference Center, she spoke at length with a group of current AIE students about her work- -and left the distinct impression of an educator who is putting her knowledge and diligence to perfect practical use.

"I am busy planning 2007 programs right now," she says. "My office is full of calendars!"

Stories are accurate at the time they are published and will not be updated to account for changes such as new jobs.