Monday, May 24, 2010

The Frost School’s 2nd Grade Classroom Collections Project

Ideas about collections this year have sparked projects for PreK through adult audiences. Christine Jee and her second grade class at the Frost School in Lawrence embarked on a year-long Classroom Collections Project in September, exploring the personal and cultural value of collections and museums.

Each student has had an opportunity to be the Collector of the Week, bringing in his or her collection to prompt writing, drawing, and creating – and inspiring additional curriculum connections in math and social studies.

The following are excerpts from the newsletters published from documentation of the students’ work created by the students and Mrs. Jee.

“Our first collector of the week was Gleanys; she brought in her collection of 26 bouncy balls. Students sorted the balls by color and compared her balls to different planets and even to the swirly toothpaste that we use to brush our teeth. We were able to use the many balls during math, as we counted them by 2s and talked about place value by putting them in groups of tens and ones. Finally, we made up addition word problems since Katarina, Mrs. Jee, and Gleanys all brought in more balls to add to the collection of balls. 26 + 2 + 1 + 1 = 30.”

“Remember when Tyler brought in his museum-in-a-box and we got the idea to build our own museums? Well, almost all of the students in our class have brought in their collections by now and we are beginning to plan what it would be like if we had a B301 class collections museum.”

“Last week, Julie and Jamie from the Addison Gallery came into our class and gave us a slide presentation about the museum that they work in. Their museum has been closed to the public since they are working on making it bigger (otherwise we would have gone on a field trip to visit them by now!) and we got to learn about this project. We saw an architect’s rendering, blueprints, and pictures of the construction and talked about the art that the Addison Gallery collects.”

“This week, we will begin constructing a museum of our own. We will make blueprints of what we want the inside of our museum to look like and then build one large museum out of a cardboard box, representing the outside of our museum. Each student will also be in charge of designing and creating their own galleries..”

Mrs. Jee’s students will be showing their work to friends and family soon in a special school exhibition of their “Museum of Art and Other Cool Stuff,” including a celebration of the book of their explorations and process that they co-edited and self-published using

Posted by:

Jamie Kaplowitz
Education Fellow

Monday, May 17, 2010

Emptying the Shelves

I was recently at our temporary art storage facility, looking at the tall shelves of boxes, bins, and crates that are holding our collections safe and sound while the museum is closed for renovation. I realized that there were just a few months left before our reopening and, very soon, our collection will begin to leave storage to return to our walls for display.

The museum, on the outside, looks like it has been finished for months. However, inside the building, a great deal of activity continues. The new climate control systems have been undergoing extensive testing to make sure the museum will provide a safe, stable environment for the collections when they return. The new security and fire detection systems are also undergoing rigorous testing and fine tuning. Our Preparators have been busy installing the new lighting fixtures throughout all of the museum's galleries so that we can actually see what we're doing when the art returns.

Peter Vanderwarker, photographer and Phillips Academy Alum, recently came through the museum and took several images of our beautiful building in its empty state, allowing the architecture to speak for itself (see above and right).
We are looking forward to moving back and reopening to the public this fall. And, I look forward to seeing the shelves at our temporary art storage facility empty in the near future, for it will mean that the art has finally returned to the museum, where it belongs!

Posted by

James M. Sousa
Associate Registrar for Collections and Archives

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Museum Project Part III: Inside the Addison Gallery

What do you imagine are the differences between this photo of our visit to the Addison in the fall…
… and now?

- It was September.
- They added a new part of the building.
- The glass part.
Since the start of the school year, the Addison’s Education Department has been working on The Museum Project with the Kindergarten Prep class at The Children’s Place, a Bright Horizons child care and early education center located on the campus of Phillips Academy. The students have explored all types of collections in order to connect museum collections to the cultural value of their own collections and to learn how to communicate these values to others through classification, display, and interpretation.

Click to read Part I and Part II of The Museum Project on Blog Addison.

After exploring collections and exhibitions at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, the Robert S. Peabody Museum of Archeology at Phillips Academy, and additional museums on family trips, we refocused on the Addison Gallery of American Art’s collection and building.

To provide some context for their visit to the new Addison storage and gallery spaces, we introduced them to James Sousa, the Addison’s Associate Registrar for Collections and Archives, and fellow blogger.

You all have collections of toys at home – Can you list every toy that you have? Can you tell me the location of each toy? The Addison has over 16,000 objects in its collection and my job is to know where they all are.

After sharing photos of the Addison’s collections in storage, in crates, in trucks, and on airplanes, James explained another extension of his interest in organizing collections – his Star Wars collection. The students were fascinated with James’s personal collection and how he organizes and keeps track of all those toys!

The following day, 11 students, 3 parents, 1 sibling, 1 babysitter, 2 teachers, and 2 student teachers took their experience and knowledge up the hill to the Addison. Joined by the Addison’s Education Department and Susan Faxon, the Addison’s Associate Director and Curator of Art before 1950, the students made astute observations and asked innumerable questions about the museum’s space and functions.
- I see the new part, it’s glass.
- What’s the white stuff?
- What’s in the box?
- We saw a picture of that!
- Is there going to be water in there?
What’s different in this room than in the others we’ve seen?
- The walls are a different color.
- The ceiling.
- The lights.
- The lines with the shapes inside.
- I see a pattern! Red, grey, blue, yellow.
- I remember his name: Sol LeWitt.
What part of the building are we in now?
- The glass part.

What part can we see from here that we didn’t notice outside?
- That part – It looks like a gate.
- It’s metal.

- My favorite room was the one with the shapes on the ceiling because the room was a rectangle and the ceiling was a different shape.
- My favorite room was the one with the box in it because I want to see it turn into a fountain.

The students were able to make connections between sorting and arranging their collections at home and materials in the classroom with storing, organizing, and exhibiting collections in the multiple museums they have visited throughout The Museum Project.

In order to answer the numerous questions that have come up during many of our museum visits about how works are framed and hung on the gallery walls, Jason Roy, Assistant Preparator at the Addison, later came to visit Kindergarten Prep with a large box and a bag of tools. He unpacked, disassembled and then reassembled a matted and framed image of the students so they could see first-hand all of the steps involved. They were able to explore all of the hardware and tools, from D-rings and S-hooks to tape measures and levels.

As the school year comes to a close the students will take all of their museum and cultural knowledge with them to kindergarten - and well beyond. And, the Addison and other museum staff will apply the students’ capacity for knowledge, endless curiosity, and observational skills to the development of future education programs.

Posted by

Jamie Kaplowitz
Education Fellow