A photograph of Phoebe Hillemann

Phoebe Hillemann

Teacher Institutes Educator

Museum educator who manages SAAM’s national summer teacher institutes.

Blog Posts

What Can Teachers Learn from Thinking like an Artist?

For many of us who don’t consider ourselves artists, being asked to draw on the spot can be a scary proposition. And what if you were then told you’d be doing it in front of a successful working artist? This June, teachers participating in SAAM's four-day summer institute, entitled Art, Inquiry, and Action, were asked to do just that in a hands-on workshop led by artist Manuel Acevedo. And what they took from it was both surprising and intriguing.
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At SAAM, Deaf Guides Take the Lead With Art Signs

As Emily Blachly leads a group of adults in discussing a 19th-century landscape in SAAM’s galleries, several visitors passing through the second floor hallway pause with interest. Two people stop to join the conversation. This is not an unusual occurrence for anyone who gives tours at SAAM, but Blachly’s gallery talk is especially intriguing for a visitor to encounter — she was speaking with her hands.
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A Healing Machine for the Elementary School Classroom

If you have visited SAAM's folk and self-taught art galleries since they re-opened in October, you probably encountered Emery Blagdon's wondrous Healing Machine, an installation of individual paintings and found-material sculptures suspended from the ceiling. While many museum visitors are moved by The Healing Machine, Blagdon's work found a new life this winter in an elementary school about two miles from the SAAM.
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Docents Look Back on 40+ Years at SAAM

Every day, SAAM's nearly 130 volunteer docents share their knowledge and love of American art with the public through highlights tours, school field trips, outreach, videoconferencing, and more. Eye Level sat down with two of our longest-serving docents, Phoebe Kline and Susanne Joyner, to hear their reflections on the ways the Museum has changed, highlights of its history, and what keeps them engaged.
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Teaching the African American Experience through Art

On October 13, the Smithsonian American Art Museum will host "Art and the African American Experience," an evening for teachers presented in celebration of the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Led by educators at SAAM, Teaching for Change, and the Anacostia Community Museum, participants will explore ways of thoughtfully addressing race and the African American experience through art in their teaching. The event is free with registration, and includes teaching resources and a standing reception.
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Integrating Art in the Online Classroom

Michael Hristakopoulos teaches high school social studies at a virtual school in Florida. This July, he participated in one of SAAM's summer teacher institutes, offered for English and social studies teachers interested in integrating American art into their curricula. This summer, 59 teachers from 22 states and Washington, D.C., participated in one of two week-long sessions. Michael fills us in on how he applied his experience here to his online teaching environment.
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Art Museum Tours For Visitors Who Are Blind

The best in-person encounters with artwork can engage us with compelling stories, challenge us with thought-provoking ideas, and inspire creativity. By looking deeply, visitors connect with art through what they see. But how does someone who is blind experience art in a museum? At SAAM, a team of volunteer docents have been specially trained to bring artwork to life for visitors who are blind.
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