The Visual Knowledge Program (VKP)

Image banner: Student work from the Visual Knowledge Program, 2004.
Image banner: Student work from the Visual Knowledge Program, 2004.

The Visual Knowledge Program (VKP) was the New Museum’s educational and professional development program for public high schools from 1984 to 2005. For twenty-one years, the VKP paired artist/instructors with high school teachers on a semester-long basis with the goal of integrating contemporary art with social studies, language arts, and studio art curricula. The VKP expanded these curricula through a multicultural and interdisciplinary approach that encouraged students to explore contemporary art practices in the context of broader cultural and social issues. From 2002-05, the VKP focused on the interdisciplinary study of race through art, through a subsidiary program known as Re-Presenting Race in the Digital Age.

As part of an ambitious three year program, Re-Presenting Race in the Digital Age provided high school educators with training and resources to help them discuss images of race encountered in history, literature, science and media curricula. The New Museum encouraged VKP teachers to utilize contemporary art as a departure point for these broader discussions of race and identity. Re-Presenting Race provided a comprehensive program of visual and media literacy guidelines, curriculum frameworks, distillations of current race theory and bibliographies, and an image bank of photographic and media-based images. Lessons for Re-Presenting Race in the Digital Age are available for download on the left side of your screen. For 2003/4, the participating artists and schools were:

Markus Mazza (City-As-School)
Damon Rich (Heritage School)

New York City Schools
City-As-School, Lower Manhattan (Teacher: Ummi Modeste)
Heritage School, Harlem (Teacher: Saby Malary)

National Schools
Parkway Center City High School, Philadelphia
Julia R. Masterman School, Philadelphia
Garfield High School, Seattle

American Identity
This lesson plan aims to sensitize students to issues of cultural identity and to enhance their knowledge of historical and political circumstances underlying differing attitudes about ethnicity, heritage, and identify in the United States.

Whose History is it Anyway?
This set of 3 lesson plans uses concepts of contemporary performance art, as well as contrasting points of view, to teach history. It requires students to evaluate the struggle for civil rights in the United States from the perspectives of Native Americans, European Americans, African Americans, and Americans from other parts of the world.