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"Honey, I shrank the museum!" (art project; miniature version of Philadelphia Museum of Art)(includes related information on the project and lesson summary)

My students took their art history study to new dimensions. In fact, they took their studies to a miniature scale.

Our art curriculum is strongly art history based. Every year, each art class visits a local museum. This year's classes had the opportunity to visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art and experience the artwork created by the artists they had studied in class. To further the experience, the students created a miniature museum, loosely designed after the layout of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and scaled-down versions of pieces housed in the museum.

Masterpieces in Miniature

The idea for this all-school project grew from the students. They were thrilled with the idea of creating masterpieces in miniature. Impressionistic artworks were framed with gilded macaroni frames. Clip art border designs were photocopied into cardstock to provide the students with a self-framed format on which to draw with colored pencil or marker. The students created small-scale versions of mobiles and sculptures they had studied in class. Reproduced artifacts were housed in miniature display cases made out of plastic storage containers. Wooden benches were designed to be placed throughout the museum for the imagined miniature museum visitors. Contact paper with a wood grain pattern was installed on the floor, and the interior and exterior walls were painted with inexpensive household latex paint. Recycled paper towel rolls easily became columns.

Discarded cardboard boxes, of uniform size, were used to form the body of the museum. The lids were retained to keep the museum stackable in the storage area during construction. When assembled, spring clips anchored rooms to one another and allowed the museum to be easily transported.

Encouraging involvement

When completed, the museum was displayed for all to experience. To facilitate involvement among the students, a scavenger hunt for artifacts and artworks in the museum was created. The sharing of information between grades was vital to being able to solve the list of clues that were based on the art studied by various classes.

Any opportunity to expand student understanding and enthusiasm to concepts taught is a worthwhile experience. The creation of our miniature museum topped the list in student involvement and personal growth. The project will be well remembered by all involved.

Using the impressive layout of the Philadelphia Museum of Art added to the serious nature of the project. Students presented the miniature version of the museum at the Board of Director's meeting at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which publicly displayed the students' creation. The museum display of their collective artwork provided affirmation of their efforts and talents, and was an exciting experience for the students. it proved to be a rewarding undertaking for the students and the museum alike.
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Author:Halsey-Dutton, Bonnie
Publication:School Arts
Date:Jan 1, 1997
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