About the LAUSD Art and Artifact Collection
Since its founding a century and a half ago, the Los Angeles Unified School District has accumulated many valuable and important artworks, artifacts, records and historical items, some as property of the District, others as gifts and donations. The Art and Artifact Collection’s holdings, numbering over 100,000 items, include paintings, murals, sculptures, prints, decorative arts, photographs, films, rare books, antique schoolhouse furniture, memorabilia, equipment, and instructional records. Although historically the Collection has been sparsely documented, we know something about how the District acquired these artifacts:
• Paintings and murals were purchased and donated by graduating classes at various campuses.
• Library Associations purchased paintings as gifts to the District.
• Contemporary local artists donated their work.
• Venice High School had an on-campus museum of antiquities, which was donated by the Classical League of Downtown Los Angeles.
• Under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, artists were hired to create public art in locations such as schools, post offices and parks.
• District employees were hired as staff photographers for the Audio Visual Section, Public Information Office and other branches.
• Non-profit organizations like the Hollywood Beautification Team received Neighborhood grants from the City of Los Angeles that were used to hire artists to paint murals at local schools.
• Teachers, staff and alumni gave gifts of artwork, rare books, yearbooks, scrapbooks, silver tea sets and china services used in Home Economics’ classes.
• Other District employees maintained various District records such as board minutes, annual reports, budgets, files on the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and historic schoolhouse furniture and memorabilia.
In 2003, the District hired a part-time curator to design a new Art and Artifact Collection/Archives Resource Center as a functional, accessible community asset.
The Mission of the Collection is to:
• Engage and educate the Los Angeles community, including students, families, faculty, staff and alumni, as well as independent historians, curators, librarians, archivists, and interested parties, about the history of LAUSD and its role within the greater community.
• Preserve and protect the cultural heritage of LAUSD
• Encourage the school community to become involved in the dynamic process of contributing to the collection in ways that reflect current environments and cultures
The Collection is a Community and School Resource:
• The Collection and Archives provide numerous points of entry for LAUSD teachers and students as a repository of primary source documents and artifacts. These objects reveal a larger historical perspective than traditional textbook study allows and promote an uncommon opportunity to engage in analytical and critical thinking.
• The Collection also contains objects that have significance for the greater Los Angeles education, historical, art historical, archival, library and museum communities.
• It contains artifacts that tell the story of LAUSD’s formation, administration and programs as well as miscellaneous historical items that cover broader subjects.
Art and Artifact Collection Programs:
Los Angeles students, past and present, find unique ways to engage with their own school through discovery of, and contribution to, LAUSD’s visual and recorded history. Opportunities to utilize the Collection in the classroom are numerous. The AAC has partnered with a number of experts and institutions to develop meaningful lessons and opportunities for classrooms. Lessons and field trips provide multi-sensory, hands-on, standards-based activities centered on the rich and diverse materials of the Collection. They draw on the expertise of collaborating, regional specialists and offer integrated, engaging experiences available online, in the classroom and as tours. The AAC staff and interns are available to provide customized support for lesson implementation including class visits and curatorial assistance in the selection of thematically-based materials.
The AAC also encourages the creative instructional use of Collection materials and is constantly seeking new ideas and methods to support multi-sensory learning experiences for students. The AAC provides access to Collection artifacts and materials, contextual information, leads for further research and a lesson development template.The Art and Artifact Collection is a program of the Arts Education Branch, Instructional Services.
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