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Create Your Community Museum

Ashley Marini, Bri Santucci, Stephanie Turgeon

We are excited to share a series of blog posts created in collaboration with the Curriculum in Early Childhood Education students at Holyoke Community College! The HCC students completed a Service Learning Project with Carle Art Educators this spring, continuing a partnership developed over the past two years. Students worked in groups to develop projects inspired by books in The Carle’s exhibition Picture the Dream: The Story of the Civil Rights Movement through Children’s Books. Students Ashley Marini, Bri Santucci, and Stephanie Turgeon planned the projects, experimented with materials, and documented their process for the blog. The following is their description of their project, which responds to a book included in the third section of the exhibition, “Today’s Journey, Tomorrow’s Promise,” featuring stories of the reemergence of activism in contemporary America:

Cover of the book Milo's Museum

We decided to choose the book Milo’s Museum, by Zetta Elliott and illustrated by Purple Wong for our service learning project. Milo’s Museum is about a little girl who does not see herself portrayed in the museum. She carefully selected some of her favorite things and built a museum that reflects her own identity. Milo’s family and friends came to visit, and her friends were inspired to contribute their own stories and objects to the museum. We chose to explore this book because of its powerful message of inclusion. The book invites you to make your own museum and we also invite you to create your own community museum that reflects your identity. Explore your home and find some extraordinary things! This activity can also be used in a school setting with each classroom having its own community museum, creating the opportunity to share class museums with school peers. 

In selecting items for your museum, consider including items that make you feel proud and items that have a lot of meaning to you. An example could be a picture of a family member or a stuffed animal that you have had since you were a baby. You can also create artwork inspired by your selected items. You can draw, paint, sculpt or create in whatever way you think is the most fun! We chose to do this specific project because it focuses on individuality and the importance of being confident with who you are. Some children compare themselves to others and can be hard on themselves for being different than most kids, but this project allows them to share what makes them who they are. Author Zetta Elliot includes ideas in the back of Milo’s Museum about making your own museum, including lots of ideas for ways to select objects and start conversations. Here are some ways our group members approached the project:

Stephanie was brainstorming different things that inspired and are important to her to add to her museum. Soccer has always been very important to Stephanie since she was a little girl, she loved being a part of a soccer team and even won championships with them! So, she selected a plaque with photos of her soccer team.Stephanie’s grandfather was very important to her, so she wanted to include this photo of him. He was her best friend growing up, they did everything together. Most importantly, Stephanie’s grandfather taught her a lot of important life lessons, including following her dreams and never giving up. Finally, family is very important to Stephanie, she loves hanging out and playing with her children and husband. Their favorite activity is to simply enjoy each other’s company and draw. Stephanie drew herself and her family enjoying the outdoors, using paper and crayons.
Bri was thinking of what is important to her, and she just got a puppy named Shelby. So, she used colored pencils and a magic marker to draw a portrait of Shelby, looking at her for reference. Her favorite Disney character is the Genie from Aladdin, and she created this drawing with blue construction paper. First, she drew him with a pencil, went over her lines in magic marker, and finally colored in his earring. 
Ashley was brainstorming ideas about what made her proud and what inspired her. Ashley decided that her two guinea pigs are what makes her proud. Ashley really likes to spend time with her guinea pigs! She decided she was going to draw them with a pencil and color in the pictures with colored pencils. She also got creative and decided to add a border to her picture because she thought it would make it look like it is in a frame. Ashley drew in some hearts to portray how  much she loves her pets! Ashley likes to use colored pencils the best because she feels she can be the most precise with them!

This project is an amazing opportunity to share your own history and uniqueness in a creative way. We hope you enjoy creating your very own museum at home or in your classroom! 

The Carle wants to thank the students of EDU 210, Curriculum in Early Childhood Education, for sharing their knowledge and creative responses to picture books. We hope you enjoy exploring books and materials!


Ashley Marini

Bri Santucci

Stephanie Turgeon