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“A museum is a school; The Artist learns to communicate; The public learns to make connections.” –Luis Camnitzer

Program Structure

The program is a year-long after-school club for 15-25 students in grades 6-8 that meets weekly, and is co-led by a pair of teachers—at least one of whom must be a social studies teacher. Each club or ‘Curator Crew’ will investigate a topic in history of their choosing through one of four critical lenses. 

  • Art That Inspires Change
  • NYC’s Changing Landscape
  • Evolving Roles of Wo/men
  • What Makes a Leader

In addition to meeting weekly, Curator Crews will take three-four experiential field trips to cultural institutions that will inspire the creation of their end-of-year culminating project, designing an exhibit. All History by Design Curator Crews will create an exhibit based on their research topic, and present their exhibit at the Culminating Exhibition that will take place in May 2020. Participating teachers will attend four professional learning sessions during which they will explore the social studies practices, the process of creating an exhibition, and how to leverage cultural institutions to complement their Curator Crew’s project.

Description of Critical Lenses

Art That Inspires Change

This lens is all about examining art’s role in evoking societal change. Art has played a major role in most social movements from the graffiti art on the Berlin Wall to the hope poster created for Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign. Art has a unique power to change public opinion, get people to think differently/more critically, and inspire them to take action.

  • Sample mediums to explore include: protest posters, graffiti, murals, documentary photography, anti-war songs, banned books, public art, and wearable art (ex: pink hats associated with the Women’s March on Washington)
  • Sample project topics include: The graffiti art of Banksy that calls attention to the greed of capitalism or Keith Herring’s art that brought awareness and attention to the AIDS crisis at a time when it was largely being ignored.

Evolving Roles of Wo/men

Gender roles are constantly changing. How has society responded? How has a change in women’s roles affected the role men play and vice versa?

  • Sample mediums to explore include: historical photos, oral histories, court cases, artifacts, or gender representation in media.
  • Sample project topics include: the women’s suffrage movement, women who have broken down barriers, exclusionary practices, the wage gap, a historical look at gender and sexuality, the history of the LBGTQ movement or the role of government intervention in gender expression.

NYC’s Changing Landscapes

Explore how the people, environment, jobs, transportation, culture, housing, neighborhoods, demographics, food, politics, and/or economy of New York City have changed over time.

  • Sample mediums to explore include: maps, official records, historical photos, oral histories, depictions of life at the time through artworks, and architecture.
  • Sample project topics include: an exploration of the neighborhood your school is located in or a historical look at immigration policies and how it contributes to demographics today.  

What Makes a Leader

How do you define a leader? What are some leadership qualities? Whose voices are we not hearing in history and why? Are there any leaders in your community?

  • Sample mediums to explore include: historical documents, oral histories, paintings, photographs, diaries, and other primary sources.
  • Sample project topics include: Retelling a historical event from the perspective of lesser known leaders, local leaders who have made an impact on the lives of your students, or exploring different types and styles of leadership.

Participating Cultural Institutions

  1. Apollo Theater
  2. Bard Graduate Center
  3. Brooklyn Historical Society
  4. Brooklyn Museum
  5. Brooklyn Public Library
  6. Center for Jewish History
  7. Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
  8. Jewish Museum
  9. Museum of Arts and Design
  10. Museum of Chinese in America
  11. Museum of Jewish Heritage - A Living Memorial to the Holocaust
  12. Museum of Modern Art
  13. Museum of the City of New York
  14. New York Public Library
  15. The Noguchi Museum
  16. Poster House
  17. Rubin Museum of Art
  18. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
  19. Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden
  20. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
  21. South Street Seaport Museum
  22. Tenement Museum
  23. The Bronx County Historical Society
  24. The Bronx Museum of the Arts
  25. The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine
  26. The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  27. The National Jazz Museum in Harlem
  28. The National Archives at New York City
  29. The New York Transit Museum
  30. The New-York Historical Society
  31. The Paley Center for Media
  32. The Skyscraper Museum

History by Design Flyer

Professional Learning Sessions

Participating teacher-pairs will attend four professional learning sessions that will take place on:

  • Tuesday October 29, 2019
  • Thursday December 19, 2019
  • Thursday January 16, 2020
  • Tuesday March 31, 2020

At each session, teachers will explore topics in social studies, history, and the arts through the social studies practices, the process of creating an exhibition, and how to leverage cultural institutions to complement their Curator Crew’s project. Professional learning days will take place on school days, and the History by Design program will cover the cost of per diem substitute coverage for all teachers in attendance. Participating teachers are eligible to receive up to 40 hours of per session for time spent outside of regular school hours planning for, and facilitating the after-school Curator Crew. Teachers will receive on and off-site support from the History by Design program. Each teacher-pair must attend all four full-day professional learning sessions, schedule at least one site visit with the History by Design program manager, and support their student Curator Crew in creating and presenting a museum exhibit project at the Culminating Exhibition.

Participating Schools

  1. P.S. Q004
  2. Marsh Avenue School for Expeditionary Learning
  3. P.S./M.S. 11X498 - VAN NEST ACADEMY
  4. Bronx Green Middle School
  5. The New School for Leadership and Journalism
  6. J.H.S. 227 Edward B. Shallow
  7. J.H.S. 144 Michelangelo
  8. M.S. 301 Paul L. Dunbar
  9. I.S. 061 Leonardo Da Vinci
  10. I.S. 237
  11. Liberty Avenue Middle School
  12. Bronx Writing Academy
  13. I.S. 027 Anning S. Prall
  14. P.S. 123 Mahalia Jackson
  15. P.S. K225 - The Eileen E. Zaglin
  16. P.S./M.S 042 R. Vernam
  17. Science and Technology Academy: A Mott Hall School
  18. Eagle Academy for Young Men II
  19. School of the Future Brooklyn
  20. I.S. 230