In preparation for a Barnesville School art exhibit in January, Middle School students spent a “Collaborative Day” visiting Sandy Spring Museum, a local history museum and participatory cultural arts community center.
Fifth through eighth graders explored a variety of objects from the museum’s collection, ranging from newspaper publications and handwritten correspondence to clothing, daguerreotypes (an early form of photographs), and athletic gear. Items were selected to represent four notable people from Sandy Spring’s past: suffragist Mary Bentley Thomas, baseball player Jack Bentley, postmaster and bank founder Alban Gilpin Thomas, and free black, shingle maker Remus Q. Hill.
Students were taught guidelines for object handling and were able to study pieces chosen specifically for this exercise. Explanations were shared of each item’s importance in the life of its prior owner. Students were asked to select objects that interested them most to sketch, and then wrote detailed descriptive paragraphs about them. These objects will be the inspiration for artwork students will create for an exhibit that will be on display at the museum in January.
The group also toured the museum’s “WondeRoom” where visitors make art from eco-friendly materials and items found in nature. Barnesville Art Teacher Ms. Sarah led a discussion about the choices artists and curators make in not only creating works of art to exhibit but also in how to display their work. Students brainstormed about the types of artwork that they might like to make for their exhibition, including a large scale community weaving, which will involve the entire school.
“The students will have a lot of creative freedom in designing their exhibit, but it has to fit the space and align with the mission of the museum,” Ms. Sarah said. “Being able to actually handle the objects was a special experience. I am excited to see what details students choose to reflect in their artwork.”
Barnesville parent Lydia Fraser, an archival consultant at the museum who helped to develop this new partnership said, “The museum’s mission to build community sense of place and belonging aligns so well with Barnesville’s art program and cross-curricular learning.”
Throughout the year, Barnesville’s Middle School students participate in “Collaborative Days” built around cross-curricular projects, hands-on learning, and field studies.
Barnesville School of Arts & Sciences is an independent private school in Montgomery County, Maryland offering innovative preschool through 8th grade programs. Cross-curricular teaching encourages students to explore how subjects relate to one another, helping them to make connections that spark inquiry and deepen understanding. Small classes enable skilled teachers to engage each child in an academically challenging environment. Our 30-acre campus is our extended classroom, and we integrate nature into everyday learning.