Art Literacy at the Dali

“To encourage literature and the arts is a duty which every good citizen owes to his country”- George Washington

Did you know that Americans who read books, visit museums, attend theater, and engage in other arts are more active in community life than those who do not? Arts participants, especially readers, engage in positive civic and individual activities, from exercise to charity work, at a strikingly higher rate than non-participants (National Endowment for the Arts). For literary readers, the volunteer rate is 43%, nearly three times greater than for non-readers. As members working in the literacy field, we understand that reading opens several doors for individuals to become productive members of society. So what else can we do?

The Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, recognizes the importance of the arts and literacy. They have several adult, family, and youth education programs at their campus.  On their website, they provide teacher’s guides, lesson plans, and crafts for students of all ages. The teacher’s guide includes painting descriptions, key works from the collection, a biography of Salvador Dali, as well as a resource list for all their opportunities. This is perfect if you and your student want to go on a field trip or explore a different curriculum. The lesson plans cover a variety of subjects. It creates a multi-faceted learning experience where students are able to learn about Dali’s life and work, but also practice reading and critical thinking skills.

The Dali Museum makes several efforts to highlight student work and include education into their curriculum. They are also minutes away from the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront, site for the 2012 Florida Literacy Conference, and contributed tickets to the famous silent auction.

Bethany Mead, the Education Coordinator at the Dali Museum, has a few words on the Dali’s Junior and Teen Docent programs. Read more to find out!

Dali’s art and life afford numerous opportunities to explore a wide range of topics, engage the mind, and reflect on the human experience. Among the Dali Museum’s offerings to students are the Junior and Teen Docent programs.

Challenged through student teacher interaction, student-to-student interaction, hands-on activities and reflective journaling, the students gained knowledge of Dali and his art through close instruction, learning to interpret a painting in the collection to their peers, families, and even the public.   In the Dali Museum’s first year in its new home, it graduated nearly 120 students from its docent programs.

Ultimately, the Dali Junior and Teen Docent Programs benefit students by building self-esteem, enhancing pubic speaking skills, and by providing opportunities to think critically. The programs bring families into the museum to share in the students’ accomplishments. Students are also challenged to develop their own set of symbolic images, allowing them to make value statements and articulate their own choices while developing a deeper understanding of the artist’s employment of symbols.

A new teen docent program will be open to students from all local high schools for the 2012-2013 school year through an application process. The students will complete a training course, hold monthly meetings, and will give public tours twice a month. The junior docent program is now accepting applications for it summer program.

Visit for more information.

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