This past winter, SMCC preschoolers at Newfields (formerly the Indianapolis Museum of Art) had the opportunity to work with museum staff to design the curatorial labels for the upcoming exhibition "Summer Wonderland: Spectacular Creatures." Our students first became involved in this project when audience engagement staff members and an intern interviewed our students to get their ideas on what to name the exhibit that would feature giant animals made from recycled materials. Inspired by the students' work during these interviews, museum staff approached the preschool with the idea of allowing the students to name the animals arriving at the museum in June, as well as recording any stories the children might have about these spectacular animals.
Preschool staff at Newfields designed a series of provocations in the classroom designed to spark students' curiosity and interest in advance of their participation in this project. And to the delight of all involved, Newfields staff members loved the setup so much, that the project was again expanded. SMCC staff set up a similar "stage" for the students' stories, and Newfields staff enlisted the help of onsite videographers and photographers so that students' stories could be recorded as well as documented. After reviewing all of the wonderful stories, preschool and Newfields staff members collaborated on how to best document this project, and decided on publishing a book featuring professional photographs of SMCC students, transcriptions of their stories, and possible links to an online portal where visitors could listen to the students' stories in their original forms.
The exhibit opens to the public on June 1st, and our students and families have been invited to a special preview event in which they will receive free tickets to tour the exhibit, as well as an individual copy per student of the book. An additional set of copies of the book will be available for the public to check out as a walk-along guide when they come to tour the exhibit, which will extend all around the museum and its grounds. For more information on the exhibit, please check out: