Anna Barr, a Virginia native and recent DC transplant, comes to the Museum with experience in both museums and classrooms. Anna graduated from the University of Virginia with a B.A. in History and a Masters in Education, and looks forward to welcoming learners of all ages to connect, reflect, and act.
1. Tell us three things about yourself that we might not already know?
* If my AirPods are in, I am either listening to a history podcast or a Taylor Swift album.
* I will always root for the University of Virginia’s football team, no matter how depressing their season gets.
* I take my coffee black but make exceptions for the pumpkin spice and peppermint mocha seasons.
2. What inspired you to become a museum educator?
When I was in elementary school, my mom dressed up in colonial era clothes and led field trips at a local Revolutionary War hero’s house. When I was a little older, my dad drove me all over Virginia and southern Pennsylvania to visit Civil War battlefields. As long as I can remember, when on vacations with family and friends, I was always the one stopping to read every word of public history or public art panels. I have always loved history, and that goes hand in hand with the power of museums to bring to light hidden histories, fascinating artifacts, and engaging programs. Museum education was an obvious fit for me!
3. What do you believe sets CJM apart from other museums for school groups?
The Capital Jewish Museum combines the depth of knowledge of a history museum, the eloquence of a cultural museum, and the interactivity of a science museum. It’s a place that asks as many questions as it answers, and that kind of inquiry creates incredibly meaningful learning for any age. Plus, the mission to “Connect. Reflect. Act.” is all an educator could ask of their students.
4. What is your favorite artifact or story in the Museum’s collection/exhibitions?
I love that we display a matching tallis and face mask from 2020. To quote author John Green, “We are not at the end of history. We are in the middle of it.”
5. How do museums help families and teens address complicated social issues?
In my career, I’ve learned that young people really want to understand and weigh in on complicated issues, especially teenagers. As children grow, they bring energy and fresh perspectives for what’s possible to accomplish in the world. Educators can take advantage of that by taking them seriously. Museums can provide a starting point for having important conversations, and the content knowledge to have them responsibly.
6. What do you believe is a museum’s role in social change?
Museums are not neutral. Which artifacts get exhibited, what stories get highlighted, which visitors see themselves reflected … these are the tools of a museum to draw attention and communicate a message. I’m proud to work at the Capital Jewish Museum because we use the tools of the museum to prompt critical thought about social issues and to encourage action on behalf of their values and communities.
More about Anna:
In her free time, Anna can be found rooting for any and all DC sports teams, shopping at the Eastern Market, and being a step-mom to her beloved dog Pepper.