Slater Museum Helps Learning At Norwich Free Academy

Norwich Free Academy is one of two high schools in the United States to have a museum on its campus.  The museum, which was donated to NFA in 1886, has given thousands of students as well as community members a little culture that is typically experienced in the "big city."

The Museum Curator, MaryAnn Hall, has spent most of her life working at the museum.

"The museum was funded by William Slater, the son of John Fox Slater, who at the time was a Corporator of the Norwich Free Academy.  William not only paid for the building, but he financed the acquisition and installation of the cast collection," says Hall.

The exhibits consist of a cast collection of Greek, Roman, and Renaissance art, African art, Asian culture, and a variety of colonial American art.

"First and foremost our cast collection of the worlds greatest sculptures make it possible for people to see objects that they could otherwise have to travel thousands of miles to see. Also they can come to the museum to see fine and decorative art representing 350 years of Norwich history," says Slater museum director, Vivian Zoe.

Local teachers as well as NFA's own use Slater Memorial Museum to bring the curriculum alive for such subjects as English, History, and Art.  NFA English teacher, Ellen Cavanaugh uses the museum for writing purposes.

"The kids don't have to sit in a classroom and sort of learn within a vacuum.  They are able to go out and make learning more tangible. The students would rather go out and look at a piece of art work and write about it, rather than just come up with an idea in their head and have to inspire themselves," says Cavanaugh.

The Slater Museum exhibits have provided many people hands on learning for the past 126 years.  "Slater gives us the chance to really be "in" the physical world of the ancient Greeks and Romans. We can draw, write, and think about the ideas of the characters depicted in the statues. For example, in Latin 4 we read Vergil's description of the story of Laocoon, a priest in the Trojan War. We go to the museum and study the statue of Laocoon and his sons as they are killed by Apollo's sea serpents," says Latin and Ancient Greek professor Nina Barclay.

With the newly built atrium, the museum is finally handicap accessible for all people.  The Slater Museum is open to the community on Tuesdays thru Fridays from 9am to 4pm and on Saturdays and Sundays from 1-4pm. For guided tours, calls can be made to Mrs. Hall at (860) 925-5562.