Speyer @ The Museum: Sixth and Eighth Graders Head to The Met and The Whitney
If you build it, they will come. One could say the amazing museums of NYC are fields of dreams — dreams full of creativity, art, and inspiration. Yes, our sixth and eighth graders ventured off the Boulevard to explore two of those artistic fields of dreams – the Met and the Whitney – to bring a different perspective to what they are studying in the classroom.
The sixth grade trekked to the Metropolitan Museum of Art as part of their Humanities unit of study focused on Byzantium. The purpose of this trip was to find "evidence of empire" in the objects. The students wrote down a list of the different groups of people ruled by this empire (many groups were mentioned in the accompanying exhibit essays). They thought about the vast array of expensive materials used to create the luxury goods on display, and how the empire could have been as an opportunity for some, and a restraint for others. This trip was also meant to give the students a "feel" for the culture Byzantium as they embark on their Byzantine Village Project and Plague Simulation. Students are working in groups to "build" a Byzantine village through historical fiction writing and artwork. Then, their invented village will experience the Plague through a game simulation.
Meanwhile, Speyer’s eighth grade headed downtown to the Whitney Museum of American Art to do a tour with the theme of Artist as Critic. They examined works where artists respond to the social, political, and cultural climate of their time. Looking at a variety of art from various time periods and all differing mediums, they discussed how art can tell us about American culture at the time it was made and how art can be a catalyst for change. This wraps up their semester where the eighth graders completed a collaborative stop motion film that served as a call to action for a social issue they care about.