IU Eskenazi Museum of Art docent Kim Simpson visits with a second grade class at Rogers Elementary School. Photo by Kevin Montague


The Monroe County Community School Corporation (MCCSC) requires every second-grade student to visit the Indiana University Eskenazi Museum of Art, but since the museum closed for renovation in May 2017, fulfilling that requirement has been impossible. The solution? Bring the museum to the students.

During the 2017–18 academic year, 65 volunteer docents visited every second-grade classroom in the MCCSC and Richland-Bean Blossom Community School Corporation. The docents were trained to engage students in viewing and discussing art and were equipped with a PowerPoint presentation.

“It worked so well that in May we’re expanding the program to seventh-graders,” says Heidi Davis-Soylu, who was appointed the Lucienne M. Glaubinger director of education at the Eskenazi in January.

Davis-Soylu says schools are still requesting campus visits even during the closure. “We do walking tours, looking at sculpture and architecture, and we’ve had a good response,” she says.

Heidi Davis-Soylu, Lucienne M. Glaubinger director of education at Eskenazi Museum of Art. Courtesy photo

And many of the museum’s arts education activities have continued as well. “We’re still doing First Thursdays on the Fine Arts Plaza and Art and a Movie,” Davis-Soylu says. “We partner with the Grunwald Gallery to show some of the artworks and offer professional development for teachers in the summer.”

A native of New Albany, Indiana, Davis-Soylu was in the fourth year of an architecture program at Ball State University when she decided to become a teacher. Earning her bachelor’s degree in elementary education at Indiana University Southeast, she taught school for a few years, then came to Bloomington to earn her master’s and Ph.D. in art education. Before joining the Eskenazi staff, Davis-Soylu was director of academic engagement and learning research at Newfields (formerly the Indianapolis Museum of Art).

Davis-Soylu reports the Eskenazi is scheduled to reopen in fall 2019. New facilities will include an education center, a conservation science lab, an objects viewing room for classes and faculty, and a works-on-paper viewing room and gallery.