Mary Ellen Munley was the Lead Research Advisor for Room to Rise, the result of a multi-year collaboration between the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Walker Art Center, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, with support from a National Leadership Grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services. Each of the participating museums is home to a nationally recognized teen program that has operated continuously since the 1990s. These programs bring highly diverse urban youth together to work collaboratively with museum staff and artists, developing vibrant activities and events to engage teen audiences, from tours and exhibitions to performances and fashion shows. Mary Ellen and a network of critical friends and expert advisors guided this practitioner-driven research, which incorporates innovative arts-based methods. The study offers a detailed look at the lasting impact of these programs, and highlights key engagement strategies for educators.
On April 20, Mary Ellen delivered a speech about the unique features of the research design for examining long term impact at the release of Room to Rise at the Whitney Museum of Art. The audience was museum professionals, arts educators and administrators and representative of government and private funding organizations.
Mary Ellen was included in an NPR story that aired in NYC in June, where she talked about the Room to Rise study and the role that art museums play in the lives of teens.
She was also interviewed by Amy Bishop of Houston Public Radio for a story about the teen program at Contemporary Art Museum Houston and the findings from Room to Rise.