It has been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery; in that case, the staff of Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University (JCSM) couldn’t be more delighted.
Before wrapping up school for the summer, first grade students at Auburn Early Education Center (AEEC) created a replica of the museum in their classrooms—complete with grand entrance, artwork, and even a museum shop. Museum staff toured this “mini-JCSM” along with students, teachers, parents, and guardians.
Jamie Mitchell, a first grade teacher in the “Blue Pod” at AEEC, said her students chose Auburn as a theme for this year. “Their first project was a working post office, and then they wanted to learn about Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art,” she said. Mitchell said through inquiry-based learning, problem solving, and research, students chose the projects on which they wanted to work. “They wanted to make the entrance with bricks, sign, reflecting pool and the sculptures, Spinoff and Amber Luster Chandelier. The students hung labels of what they’ve learned throughout the exhibition, and today they are acting as guides for the exhibition.”
Rising second-grader Katarina Vazsonyi worked on the brick replicas of travertine stone. “I wanted to show my mom,” she said. “I will come back to the museum.” Katarina’s mom, Andrea, said she thought the children’s work was amazing, citing the reproduction of “Amber Luster Chandelier” by Dale Chihuly. The students wrote about the artist and his assistants, how many pieces made up the sculpture, and how many days it took to install the sculpture. “Kids can learn so much through practical work and creativity,” said Andrea Vazsonyi. “I think it is very important.”
Museum director Marilyn Laufer was equally impressed. “I think that more than anything else for me, I realized that what we do does in fact have an enormous effect on the creative capacity of the children in this community,” she said. “The children remembered their experiences here and the names of our education curators. As far as effective outreach, I think we hit a home run.”
Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art is a charitable, nonprofit committed to lifelong learning and community enrichment. To learn more about supporting JCSM’s outreach and instruction efforts through the Auburn University Foundation, visit our support page.