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Each week on the Junior Curators blog, we travel back in time to a different place in Tennessee history. Stories may be about a famous person, place or event from Tennessee’s past. They will include things like priceless artifacts, pictures, videos, and even some games. Be sure to better understand the story by answering the questions at the end of each post.
After learning the story, be sure to share what you've learned with your parents, family, or friends. Try making your own exhibit about it, shooting a movie, or writing a story about it. Let your creativity run wild!
by Jeff Sellers
Do you like Show and Tell at school? When I was a kid, it was my favorite part of the school day. The teacher let you bring in something from home. When it was your turn, you could lift up your toy or doll and tell your classmates about it.
In a way, this is what museums do. They hold very special objects called artifacts. Artifacts are objects used by people a long time ago. Artifacts tell stories about a person, a place, or events. A curator is the person in charge of telling the stories at a museum.
This artifact is a shoe worn by a Native American over five hundred years ago. It tells the story of how Native Americans once lived.
The curator’s job is to decide which artifacts tell a story best. First, he or she decides on a story. Then, they pick which artifacts go together to tell that story. Afterwards, they write a short description called a label. Labels tell about the artifacts. Sometimes curators also use pictures or videos to help tell the story. This collection of artifacts, labels, pictures, and videos is called a museum exhibit.
What kind of stories do exhibits tell? Well, it can be anything. Some tell stories about war. Others tell stories about people who overcame challenges. The best museum exhibits not only tell interesting stories, they also get people to think about things.
This exhibit in our First Peoples gallery shows objects made by Mississippian people of Tennessee
Do you have very special objects at your house? Maybe you can be a museum curator! Try to find artifacts in your room that are important to you. Get index cards and write a label about each artifact to help tell the story of you! Remember, every good story needs a title. Think up a title and post it in your room. Then bring your family members in and give them a tour of your exhibit!
Artifact: an object used by people in the past
Curator: a person who tells stories at a museum
Label: a short description of an artifact
Exhibit: a collection of artifacts that tell a story
1) Can you tell the steps to make a museum exhibit?
2) What kinds of things make up a museum exhibit?
3) Why are artifacts important to museums?
Make a museum exhibit in your bedroom. Follow these steps.
1. Pick five of your favorite objects, or artifacts, in your room. They can be trophies, pictures, artwork, or toys.
2. Write a label for each artifact. A label should be one to three sentences about your artifact. For example, if you use a trophy, tell about how you won it. Did you make a goal or a hit?
3. Place your artifacts and labels around your room. You can divide your room into areas that focus on sports, art, or play. For example, your toys could be in the play section of your museum. Your trophy could be in the sports section.
4. Write a title for your exhibit. Post it on your door so that your guests will know what the exhibit is about.
5. Give your family members a tour. Teach them the story of your life!
Tennessee State Social Studies Standard:
Social Studies Practice 001 (SSP.01) Gather information from a variety of primary and secondary sources, including: ● Printed materials (e.g., literary texts, newspapers, political cartoons, autobiographies, speeches, letters, personal journals) ● Graphic representations (e.g., maps, timelines, charts, artwork) ● Artifacts ● Media and technology sources
Jeff Sellers is the Tennessee State Museum Director of Education & Community Engagement