Friday, April 1, 2011

MFA Art Camps - Disappointing

The new MFA (Museum of Fine Arts) as it is being advertised is quite breathtaking. A whole new wing of the Americas, a gigantic almost ceiling-less cafeteria, updated collections - basically a list that will awe any art lover.

Aishani attended the February Vacation camp for 4 days. We had to enroll in 2 sessions - a morning 9-12pm "At of teh Americas - Midnight Journey" and an afternoon 1-4pm "ToyMaking" and also enroll for a supervised lunch in between. There was no options of after-care. Right at the beginning while enrolling I should have seen the signs unreliability and inadequacy. The new system needs parents to call a 3rd party to buy "tickets" for these camps. The 3rd party on the phone does not have any answers to any questions that you may have about the camp. They can only repeat the 2 line description in the brochure and calling the MFA number multiple times during valid hours only forwared me to voicemail. I signed my daughter up.

 She loved the class and I am NOT signing her up again for a long time!  The whole program needs a lot of work - planning & execution - before it can be satifactory for concerned parents.

My daughter loved it because :
  • From start to finish, the curriculum was about learning and creativity in the classes. They visited galleries and learned about artifacts and paintings. 
  • They tried to reproduce art and sculpture in their classes with different range of mediums from string, clay, paper, paint, wood and so on
  • She made new friends - Addy and Selma 
  • She was proud to be visiting galleries with a peer group, absorbing and implementing what she was learning.

I am upset because :
  • The classes itself are on the 3rd floor and once you step out of he elevator, you are transported to another world - very different than the MFA you visit. The walls are dingy, the floor uneven and stained, small windy flights of stairs which straightaway spell "fire -hazard". I am a MFA member and I was completely surprised to see this part of the MFA which is not "publicized". I would love to see pictures of these classroom areas online on their site - especially the hand written notes on doors saying "Don't block- exit in case of emergency" - stuck with temporary tape. I must say it was depressing.
  • Driving back on the last day I asked my daughter if there was anything she did not like about the camp - and she said "Of course the 3 boys who kept bullying us in the afternoon Toy Making" class. After asking many many questions and getting some answers between "I don't knows" I learnt that there were 3 boys, 10-12 yearolds who kept bullying the younger girls. They pushed and punched the girls ! tried messing up their art/craft and called them names and snatched their stuff and so on. The girls complained to their instructor - but the bullying did not stop in any scale!
  • On the fourth day I was late in picking her up, I continuously called the "contact" number but noone picked up - in fact right from the beginning of registration - non-availabilty of people on the program has been an issue.
I could go on about her lunch bag and how her Bento - Laptop Lunchbox was thrown out, how it took administrators 8 days to reply to my email or how it takes a person at least 40 minutes to find parking in the garage and get in and out while the museum gives you half an hour of parking and you have to convince the gate keeper of your situation, how noone could find me a tissue or napkin when my daughter had a nosebleed (the coarse craft paper had to suffice) and many other small things which may sound petty but which to busy but concerned parents and parents who want a good camp experience for their child, is extremely important.

Ultimately it all contributes to the experience we have had as a family and my experience was not good. I think whoever is planning the program may be doing a great job of the curriculum but the administration of these camps needs a lot more work. Currently I think it is an unreliable environment to send my child to. It has been a disappointment and needless to say I will not be renewing my membership this year......