Dana Carlisle Kletchka, curator of education at the Palmer Museum of Art and affiliate assistant professor of art education at Penn State, has been named National Museum Division Art Educator of the Year by the National Art Education Association (NAEA). She will receive the award at the NAEA annual convention in New Orleans in March.
“As curator of education at the Palmer Museum of Art on the Penn State University Park campus, Dana has been a driving yet humble force over the past several years in the collaborative efforts between the museum and educators across the University, state, nation and world,” wrote nominator B. Stephen Carpenter II, professor of art education and professor-in-charge of the Art Education program at Penn State. “What I have come to know about Dana over the years is she is an outstanding art educator who understands deeply the importance of quality exhibitions, museum visits and professional development experiences and the role they can play as educational moments of learning.”
Kletchka has been curator of education at the Palmer since 2000, after previously holding museum education positions at the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Okla., and Helen Foresman Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas. She received her Ph.D. in Art Education from Penn State in 2010 and has been an affiliate member of the faculty since 2002.
“I am deeply humbled and incredibly honored to receive this award from the National Art Education Association. My colleagues and peers in the field of art museum education are creative, energetic professionals that do amazing work to engage their audiences in multiple ways, make meaning and create contexts for works of art, and educate a broad and diverse public,” said Kletchka. “I feel fortunate to be able to do work that feeds my soul, connects me with others and expands my understandings of the world in a university environment filled with learners and seekers of all ages.”
Joyce Henri Robinson, curator at the Palmer, commends Kletchka’s innovativeness and ability to plan and implement the museum’s education programs as a one-woman education department. “When I say she is responsible for EVERYTHING involving education at the Palmer, I do mean everything. Never content to merely stay afloat or maintain the status quo pedagogically speaking, Dana continues to pursue new forward-thinking projects (particularly where technology is concerned) and forge meaningful relationships across campus and in the community,” Robinson wrote in her nomination letter.
Kletchka is currently the Professional Development Liaison for the Art Education program at Penn State; co-director and faculty for the yearly Summer Institute on Contemporary Art, a joint project of the Penn State School of Visual Arts and the Palmer Museum of Art; and the head of Penn State’s Museum Consortium. A co-editor of ArtMuseumTeaching.com, an online community of practice, she has authored book chapters, journal articles and essays in such books as Judy Chicago at Penn State (2014) and From Periphery to Center: Art Museum Education in the 21st Century (2007).
Kletchka is co-editor, with Carpenter, of Strategies of Engagement through Contemporary Art: Professional Development in Museums for PreK–12 Art Teachers (accepted for publication). She has published articles in the NAEA journal Art Education and served on its Editorial Review Panel from 2003 to 2007, in addition to serving as the Museum Division Director of the Pennsylvania Art Education Association from 2002 to 2005. She is the immediate past chair of Penn State’s Commission on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equity, a presidential advisory commission, and frequently delivers professional presentations on art museum education at national and international art education and design conferences.
Kletchka holds an M.A. in Art Education and B.A. degrees in English and Art History from the University of Kansas.
Photo by Trish Hummer