Columbus Museum staffer wins state award

Christy Barlow
Christy Barlow

A Columbus Museum staffer has won a state award.

The Georgia Association of Art Educators named Christy Barlow as its Museum Education Art Educator of the Year.

Barlow, the Columbus Museum’s academic programs coordinator, develops resources for regional educators and manages programs aligned with the museum’s goal of being a leader and partner in education. Since joining the museum’s staff two years ago, Barlow has, according to the museum’s news release:

▪  Expanded partnerships with institutions such as the Muscogee County School District.

▪  Reconfigured teacher resources, including lesson plans and Skype sessions, to meet curriculum standards for Georgia and Alabama schools.

▪  Increased the docent program participation by 60 percent, which allows the museum to provide more guided tours.

The Columbus Museum’s education director, Abbie Edens, told the Ledger-Enquirer in an email, “I think the one thing that stands out most about Christy is her ability to take creative new approaches to programming for her audience. She is always churning out new concepts and making amazing ties to our collection and exhibitions.”

Barlow credits her upbringing for starting her on such a path.

“I was lucky enough to grow up in a family that really valued museums, and some of my most meaningful memories were of seeing things that made history come to life and also instilled a lifelong love of art,” Barlow said in the release. “I take great pride in creating those kinds of experiences for others. I love seeing the moment when someone really connects with a museum object.”

Barlow previously served as a graduate teaching assistant at the University of North Texas, where she completed her doctoral coursework and earned a certificate in art museum education. She earned a master’s degree in art education and a bachelor’s degree in fine art with an emphasis on art education from the University of Southern Mississippi, according to the release.

Thomas County Middle School art teacher Emily Holton, the GAEA fall conference chairwoman, nominated Barlow.

“In our vendor room, she worked to inform the art teachers about the Columbus Museum and what they can provide for their art students,” Holton, the GAEA Middle Level Art Educator of the Year, wrote about Barlow on the nomination form. “She has always been easy to work with and so knowledgeable in her museum education profession. She is well organized and creative. She is very deserving of this award.”

Barlow was selected out of approximately 20 nominees, said GAEA’s museum education division chairwoman Kate McLeod, the head of school and teacher services at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. The GAEA has 650 art teachers and administrators in its membership, said Mercedes Parham, the Columbus Museum’s marketing and media manager.

As the state winner, Barlow is a candidate for the Museum Education Art Educator of the Year award from the National Association of Art Educators. The NAEA selection criteria is based on activities within the national and regional associations, history of program development, publications, artistic production and teaching experience, Parham said.