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Carl Goodman, Exec Director, Museum of the Moving Image
By Kisa Schell


Carl GoodmanIn an exclusive interview with Education Update, executive director of the Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI), Carl Goodman, shared his views on media, education and things to come. An accomplished visionary in the arts, Mr. Goodman started his career at Moving Image as an educator in 1989, where he used his interests in digital technology to focus on its increasing use in filmmaking. From there, Mr. Goodman was appointed Curator of Digital Media in 1992, followed by the successive positions of Director of Digital Media and Director of New Media Projects for the Museum and Senior Deputy Director. Mr. Goodman succeeded Founding Director Rochelle Slovin in November, 2010 and has been an integral part of moving the museum into the future ever since.

Mr. Goodman described how the Museum of Moving Image strives to inspire students to view masterpieces of cinema and  “[use them] as ways to open conversation on topics such as immigration and civil rights. Our other goal is to introduce the language of film and how to talk about film, to treat film like great works of literature- as pillars of our culture. Young people take so well to our topic and subject because of its relatability. We are surrounded by moving images– we consume them, we are entertained by them, we make them– but we rarely reflect on them in our everyday experience so that’s what we do here.”

This effort to incorporate an understanding and appreciation of media with important cultural topics is what drives the museum’s many programs that benefit young people both in and out of school. Most recently, the museum has collaborated with the Mayor’s Office of Crisis Management to combat gun violence in areas that are heavily affected: “We generally like to focus on skill building rather than being prescriptive about content because you get [young people] excited about using media to express themselves and as they evolve as citizens, they’ll want to make media about things they care about.”

Goodman praised the strong partnerships MoMI has fostered over the years, highlighting the generosity of Ann and Andrew Tisch: “They funded and named a brand new education center in 2011 which allowed us to double our capacity and have an actual facility. We were nomadic! The students [now] have a separate entrance, an orientation space, places to put their book, a smaller theatre where they experience specialized screening programs, workshop and classroom spaces that are quite beautiful and allow them to take part in hands-on media making activities. They continue to be very important to us. For instance, we now have a program in collaboration with Cornell Tech and Cornell Tech has adopted a middle school on [Roosevelt] island. By introducing us to Cornell, we then went out together and got funding to do a program with their adopted school and other things like Hackathons which we call ‘Design Jams’.”

Previously, the local Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria was another partnership fostered by the Tisches that helped kick start many MoMI endeavors: “In the earliest days they did something quite wonderful, which was to connect us with an exceptional new school. As we go and work in more challenging environments, it was important to have that initial experience with a school that in a way didn’t have the legacy that a lot of other schools have and could be really innovative and not play by the rules in certain cases and try new things and also spend a lot of time mentoring their students. That really got us going and we were one of the first organizations outside of MIT to get their hands on and employ this computer programming language for young people called scratch.”

The reach of the Museum of Moving Image has long since grown exponentially, through partnerships with the NYC Department of Education, allowing the museum to reach young people along various avenues: “We are deeply involved with the Blueprint for the Moving Image. This is a component of the DOE Blueprint for the Arts, which has been in existence for many years. There was an effort on the part of the DOE’s Department of Arts and Special projects, led by Paul King. In writing a new vertical for the Blueprint for the Arts, if you think of performing arts and the visual arts, there’s now a moving image component and we are very pleased that everyone agreed to call it the Blueprint for the Moving Image. 20 years ago, no one knew what that was. We run yearly professional development workshops here, [along with] teacher training around the blueprint. We see close to 50,000 school students a year through tours and workshops, as well as afterschool programs. I’m going to say about 30,000 are from public schools and a good percentage of those being from Title 1 schools. We have a kind of scaffolded experience where young people can come as part of a school group for an hour and a half, but a subset of those take a workshop and a subset of those do afterschool programs and on top of that, the teen digital media labs (which are a big part of what we’re doing), now with funding from the Pinkerton Foundation. These are Friday afternoon [sessions] where you can come hang out afterschool, make stuff, and get free pizza. [We’re] getting teens and tweens to come hang out at a museum, can you imagine?,– and we’re packed!”

Looking towards the future, Goodman anticipates many exciting things to come: “Our biggest initiative right now is developing a new track of programming around our soon to open permanent exhibition devoted to Jim Henson. We have held a series of think tanks involving learning specialists, teachers, puppeteers, technology specialists, to map out what kind of workshop and school experiences we can develop that really platform off of the universal appeal of Jim Henson and his creative spirit and the tremendous amount of work and innovation that went into doing what he did. The Henson family members were also greatly involved, many of whom are also greatly interested in education. It’s also giving us an opportunity for the very first time to address younger audiences. Interestingly, our education programs were built first and foremost on our need to serve middle and high school age young people. Oftentimes in art museums, they start young. A tour at the museum needs to be really meaningful and work at the level of each child and student who comes here and Henson gives us a great opportunity to develop programming around the characters that people know so well and look at things that way not be obvious at first that relate to Henson. For instance, what makes a community? How do you perform in front of an audience? Puppetry provides interesting opportunities. The degree of remove that puppets have from people allow for certain more serious questions to be talked about and addressed in a safe space.”

The Jim Henson exhibit, slated to open sometime this year, is only one of the many things to come from the Museum of Moving Image. As our society becomes increasingly media-focused, this institution will serve as an important resource for reflection. #



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