A Convergence of Disciplines: Singapore’s New ArtScience Museum

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Last week in the Bangkok Post, Ezra Kyrill Erker wrote about the stunning new ArtScience Museum in Singapore and about its three inaugural exhibitions. First of all, the lotus-shaped museum building by architect Moshe Safdie is quite beautiful and, most of all, fascinating—a part of Safdie’s Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort. The headline for Erker’s article is “A Station for the Imagination.” And, if that wasn’t enough to draw me in, the museum’s tagline is “Embark on journeys through curiosity, inspiration and expression.” As a “curiosity junkie” of sorts, I couldn’t resist a closer look. The idea of art and science as conjoined (as in the museum’s moniker), is appealing as an exemplar of the ideal of STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) that integrates arts-centered learning, a sometime-topic featured on this blog. The museum’s website describes this foundational idea:

“The Museum’s showpiece exhibition, the ArtScience Gallery, is an homage and introduction to the nascent field of ArtScience. What unites Art and Science is the instinct to observe, connect, take risks and explore new ideas and ways of understanding nature’s wisdom and experiences that shape our culture. Visitors to the ArtScience Gallery will explore these mysterious connections between the arts and the sciences through three galleries – Curiosity, Inspiration and Expression – thus undergoing their own journey of creativity.

“The Museum will also play host to marquee exhibitions curated by leading museums and collections. These visiting exhibitions will be recast through the lens of ArtScience, allowing visitors to experience the creative process and interaction of influences that gave rise to great moments, movements and inspirations in time.

“Unique to the region, the ArtScience Museum expresses Singapore’s priorities and ambition to be the exchange capital of the world, providing an internationally renowned forum for the exchange of the latest ideas and theories. The ArtScience Museum is an endowment to Singapore’s creative class, and it is Singapore’s gift to the world.”

As Erker articulates it, “science is more subjective, imaginative and creative than many assume,…art is empirical and applied and thus the two fields rely on one another.” The museum’s permanent exhibition organizes the visitor’s experience through three the three concepts representing curiosity, inspiration and expression. According to the website, “by demonstrating how creative minds meld the disciplines of art and science to make objects that transform our world, [the exhibition] takes visitors on a journey inside the creative process across three unique spaces.”

Erker also reviews the three current temporary exhibitions, one of which is the Silk Road exhibit from the American Museum of American History in New York. It is interesting to contemplate this visiting work from the perspective of “ArtScience.” Check out Erker’s full article here.

The “ICI Continuum”: Imagination, Creativity, and Innovation

I noticed recently that a number of readers had arrived at the Imagination Now site hoping to learn more about the imagination-creativity-innovation continuum, something that Scott Noppe-Brandon speaks about often and something that comes up frequently as a topic of discussion during the Imagination Conversations happening around the country. To help satisfy that curiosity, here is an explication of the concept that might serve as a foundation for your own further discussion or investigation:

“We define imagination simply as the capacity to conceive of what is not—something that, as far as we know, does not exist; or something that may exist but we simply cannot perceive, It is the ability to conjure new realities and possibilities: in John Dewey’s words, ‘to look at things as if they would be otherwise.’…

“If imagination is the capacity to conceive of what is not, then creativity, in turn, is imagination applied: doing something, or making something, with that initial conception. But not all acts of creativity are inherently innovative. In our view, innovation comes when an act of creativity has somehow advanced the form….

“Imagination → Creativity (imagination applied) → Innovation (novel creativity)”

Liu, Eric, and Scott Noppe-Brandon. Imagination First: Unlocking the Power of Possibility. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2009, p. 19-20.

LCI Joins Channel Thirteen in a Celebration of Education

On March 18 and 19, WNET will sponsor the 2011 Celebration of Teaching and Learning. From Mehmet Oz to Oliver Sacks to Leymah Gbowee, each year the Celebration brings together extraordinary thinkers of our era, and whether their expertise lies in technology or health sciences, all come to discuss the state of education and the possibilities for its future.

Common Core standards in Math and ELA will be addressed, as will STEM, autism, and other burning issues—not forgetting the arts and creativity, which is where Lincoln Center Institute comes in.

We are proud to announce that Scott Noppe-Brandon, LCI’s Executive Director and author of Imagination First, and Ashley Merryman, award-winning journalist who has covered the “Creativity Crisis” beat in both book and newspaper, will present a panel on the subject of imagination, creativity, and innovation in schools: the “ICI Continuum.” Book signings will take place at the event and are hosted by Barnes & Noble.

The Celebration takes place at the New York Hilton. For exact location, times, and detailed information about the program and the speakers, go to http://thirteencelebration.org/

Congratulations to the Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies—Winner of the 2011 Imagination Award

Drama Teacher Kori Rushton, Principal Alyce Barr, and Music Teacher Christine Piccirillo from the Brooklyn School of Collaborative Studies. Photo: Patrick McMullan Company ©2011

As many know, Lincoln Center Institute created the annual Imagination Award to encourage and acknowledge New York City public schools that successfully incorporate and foster imaginative thinking in their teaching and learning practices. It is our pleasure to announce the 2011 winner: Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies.

The school is a 6th through 12th grade school, winning for its middle school efforts. Before we even read its application, we gave thumbs up to the words “Collaborative Studies” in the school’s name. BSC promotes rigorous study and an engaging curriculum, and pedagogy based on inquiry — meaning that questioning is encouraged. Also, it has created a school culture that demands and teaches compassion and good citizenship—all pedagogical qualities that LCI support.

Congratulations to the Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies, and to all the staff, headed by Principal Alyce Barr, who give the school its direction and guide its students toward desirable goals with imaginative learning.

Imagination Conversation Report: The Meridian Institute, Indiana

Here’s another in our series of posts about previous Imagination Conversations. Over the course of the project, we’ve seen that a Conversation can be, among many other things, a great way to bring together a cross section of influential figures from a given state—people whose paths might not ordinarily intersect—to exchange imaginative ideas and reach conclusions that have statewide impact. The Indiana event I report on below was just such a unifying and action-oriented occasion. It may serve as an instructive model for anyone interested in using a Conversation as a rallying point for social or economic advancement at the state level.

The Imagine Indiana Leadership Summit, hosted by The Meridian Institute, happened on October 12 at the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s (IMA) Tobias Theater. Its objective was “to advance policy recommendations…to increase Indiana’s and America’s capacity for innovation” while highlighting culture’s role as a source of innovation. A steering committee made up of heads of state cultural, educational, and economic organizations—such as the Indiana Arts Commission and the Indy Partnership—prepared an action agenda over the course of six months. This agenda was presented, refined, and voted on at the well-attended gathering; the results are being delivered to key figures in the state for implementation. In addition to keynote presentations by Council on Competitiveness President and CEO Deborah Wince-Smith and IMA Director and CEO Maxwell Anderson, three panels—on culture, education, and economics, respectively—occurred during the day.

Meridian Institute President and CEO Dr. Scott Massey remarks, “Imagine Indiana engaged a cross section of the state’s top leadership, increased awareness of the importance of culture, and led to the creation of an innovation action agenda that can improve the state’s future.” Its many diverse recommendations include: depreciating Indiana students’ college tuition if they remain in the state to work there; using the alumni networks of Indiana universities to foster business alliances among former students; and including cultural leaders in Indiana’s economic and educational strategy organizations.

View the day’s proceedings on The Meridian Institute’s YouTube channel.

More Imagination Conversation Reports will appear soon!

Click here to view all Imagination Conversation Reports.

Imagination Conversation Report: Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio

Here’s another in our series of posts about previous Imagination Conversations. Ohio is one state that has taken up the concept and really run with it. Back in the spring of 2009, I made a presentation to educators and arts organizations there. This led to a series of brown bag lunch panels in which Ohio Department of Education (ODE) curriculum, communications, and policy directors discussed the role of imagination in their own work and teaching, with their staffs joining in as audience members. Since then, ODE, the Ohio Arts Council, and the Columbus Museum of Art (CMA) have together hosted three more Conversations. The first took place in Columbus on December 5, 2009, and the second was held at Oberlin College on May 15, 2010, as part of the OhioDance Festival. As for the third:

The October 14 Ohio Imagination Conversation addressed the policy goals of the overall initiative by focusing on American education reform. Hosted by CMA, which offered attendees a sneak peek of its new Center of Creativity, the event boasted a roster of prominent panelists: Antwone Fisher, writer, speaker, and subject of Denzel Washington’s 2002 directorial debut; Michael Weiss, President and CEO of clothing retailer Express, Inc.; and fashion designer and Project Runway finalist Althea Harper, among others. Dr. Steven Seidel, director of the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Arts in Education Program, moderated. What made the day’s structure unique was the public response to the panel by Peter Cunningham, assistant secretary for communications and outreach in the U.S. Department of Education, who discussed how imagination, creativity, and innovation relate to the 21st-century learning environments President Obama wants to develop.

CMA Director of Education Cindy Foley says, “The panel was almost poetic in the way they wove their viewpoints together.” Commenting on Cunningham’s mention of the possibility that 50% of American teachers will retire in the next decade, Foley adds, “The pressure is on the next generation of teachers to foster the creativity our children will need to succeed.”

View the day’s proceedings on CMA’s YouTube channel.

More Imagination Conversation Reports will appear soon!

Click here to view all Imagination Conversation Reports.