Last week we brought you a Teacher Feature from our kindergarten class where they learned about art conservation. This lesson was part of a larger unit on museums in which the class learned what museums are, who works in them, and how they run. The web below displays the aspects of museums the class, led by Cathryn Prudencio and Silvana Oderisi, learned about during this unit to gain a better understanding and appreciation for all the people and work that goes into the museums that the students visit daily. Following the web are photos highlighting some of their experiences from the unit.
After exploring many of the museums on the National Mall, the class focused their attention on collections. They visited the third floor of the National Museum of Natural History to look at photographs of collections housed in the Museum. The class learned how collections are used for educational purposes as well as, research.
The kindergartners were in for a surprise when Igor Krupnik, a curator from Anthropology Department happened to walk by, and invited them to view his collection from Greenland. The children were able to see firsthand how the objects in a collection are stored safely while not on display. He also talked about how some of the objects are used by people. He is holding a woman’s knife called an ulu, which is used to scrape animal skins and cut food.
To further understand collections, the class worked in teams and sorted a variety of objects into categories. As they touched the objects they wore gloves and handled them gently, reminding them that objects in a museum’s collection need to be protected and preserved so people can view them for years to come.
Now that the class understood the concept of collections, they began to explore how the are displayed in exhibits.The class met with Tim Winkle, a museum curator at the National Museum of American History. Mr. Winkle explained that he is in charge of the firefighting collection, and walked the class through an exhibit he curated: Always Ready: Fighting Fire in the 19th Century. Winkle offered a glimpse into how exhibits are created by explaining how and why he chose each object. He also discussed how he collaborated with the exhibit designer to create the finished product.
During the unit, the class met with many people who work in museums, all performing very different jobs, but all vital to the museum running smoothly.Ann Caspari, a museum educator at the National Air and Space Museum, and former SEEC teacher, met with the class to talk about what museum educators do. She explained how she meets with many children from around the area and teaches them about flight and space through stories, objects, and hands-on activities. They even got to participate in one of these activities – the children made their own air crafts and tested them in a wind tunnel, modifying them if need be.
The children met with Chris Mah, a marine biologist who studies at the National Museum of Natural History. He shared invertebrate specimens with the children and explained how scientists use questions to classify objects. Two important questions to his work are about shape and symmetry.
The class also met with Alexander Nagel, an archaeologist who worked in Persepolis in Iran. He showed the children how he restores objects back to their original colors, and took them through the Eternal Life in Ancient Egypt exhibit at the National Museum of Natural History to find artifacts that have been restored to look how they did when they were originally created.
We hope you enjoyed getting a bigger picture of our Kindergarten class’ unit on Museums! We’ll see you soon with our next Teacher Feature.