You don’t think of a museum as a typical space to practice yoga, but between Spelman College’s Wellness Revolution and introducing interdisciplinary programming into the Spelman College Museum of Fine Arts’ educational curriculum, Yoga in the Museum has become one of the gallery’s most innovative and engaging programs.
“It really began as exploring programing that rethinks how you walk through and engage in a museum,” said Makeba Dixon-Hill, curator of education at the Spelman Museum. “When we think about the history of museums, and especially people of color, you have a lot of research that talks about people not feeling comfortable in museums. Of course that means people not coming, but when they come in, they also don’t know what to do.”
As an expansion of Yoga in the Museum, the Spelman Museum offers the Yoga, Literature, and Art Camp for Teen Girls, a summer camp facilitated by Chelsea Jackson, Ph.D., C’2001, which provides an opportunity for girls in the surrounding areas to be on the Spelman campus and experience an integrated of experience of practicing yoga, exploring literature by women of the African diaspora and making connections with art. This camp was developed from Jackson’s dissertation research and also includes a social justice proponent.
“Within my dissertation research, I started to see yoga as a space of exploration and deliberate concentration on something, and so the girls begin to use their yoga practices as a way to think critically about their experiences in this world as young, Black women,” explained Jackson. “The social justice comes from having space to be able to confront challenges that we come up against everyday as young, Black women, and using [the curriculum] as a tool to transform things in our lives that we want to see changed.”