Even if your class cannot visit a museum or historical society, most of this activity takes place in the classroom, and the Internet can offer many of the resources that cultural institutions might offer. For example, after students have completed step 3 of the In the Classroom section of this activity, have them browse through some of the museum sites listed in the Additional Resources section. If you find a lot of exhibitions on subjects similar to one or more of the preliminary themes that the students have chosen, odds are good that they will be able to construct an exhibition based on those topics. Use this method of online canvassing to help students narrow down their available choices of exhibition themes.
Once they have chosen their topic, students can call upon the expertise of museum professionals to help them display and create labels for their objects, even if your class does not have access to a nearby cultural institution. From the research in step 1, choose one or several museums that have presented exhibitions similar in theme to the one your students wish to create. Next, have students send electronic mail (e-mail) to the curators of these exhibitions (or to the museums' general mailbox, if individual addresses are not available) asking these people if they would be willing to serve as advisors on the construction of the class exhibition. Establish a group of volunteers to write and track this correspondence.
Students can call upon these museum professionals at key points in the development of their exhibition to offer advice. (Emphasize that questions must be specific and clear, out of respect for the curators' time and to ensure the usefulness of their comments.)
Follow the construction of the exhibition as outlined in the Back in the Classroom section. Have students invite each
of their "e-mail advisors" to view the exhibition, even if none
will likely attend. The students should also send a formal letter of thanks
to each advisor, including photographs of the finished exhibition, if possible.
Last Modified September 19, 1997