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Kym and Ali Ries view art in the Metropolitan Museum of Art gallery. Barn wood was first used to display art during the “Barn Again!” Community Art Show.
The Art Museum Store was stocked with a variety of items purchased at a 55% discount from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The store walls were decorated with front covers of New Yorker magazines.
Morenci High School students constructed a variety of buildings to create a city streetscape after studying architectural styles like those in the Chrysler Building art poster.
Patrons work on a jigsaw puzzle depicting the Brooklyn Bridge. The New York City subway system was the subject of the next puzzle completed.
A mother and son play Nok Hockey, a popular game at the P.S. 102 playground in the Bronx where library director Colleen Leddy grew up.
Behind the teens setting up games for younger kids, more Picturing America art housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art can be seen.
Open space was created to accommodate an indoor Skullsey board. Later, with the help of the high school Volunteer Club, this area was filled with chairs for Ned Vizzini’s presentation and the Paul Keller Trio performance.
Players gather at the bottom of an inning of stickball during National Gaming Day @ your library activities.
Library board president Sally Kruger, in back by buildings, listens to Ned Vizzini’s talk. Sally was instrumental in bringing Ned to Morenci when his first book, Teen Angst, was published.
The Paul Keller Trio attracted mostly an older crowd.
While listening to the Paul Keller Trio, seven-year-old Tess drew the performers using a Quattro pencil and Chunky Sketch Pad her grandmother purchased for her at the Art Museum Store. The Trio autographed the drawing.
More Picturing America posters can be seen in the overflow seating area during the Paul Keller Trio performance. This gallery area showcased New York artists and New York subjects.
The preschool storytime group watched Don’t Eat the Pictures: Sesame Street at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and listened to stories which featured art.
Picturing New York ... In a Tiny Midwest Town
Stair Public Library, Morenci, MI
Project Director: Colleen Leddy
Target Audience: Family/intergenerational, Adult, Children, Teen
Library Size: Under 25,000
“Because our library is located in an economically depressed, small, rural community, we strive to develop programs, activities, and events that expose people of all ages to educational and thought-provoking cultural opportunities in an entertaining way. We try to draw in people from the surrounding area to make them aware of our small town and what it has to offer.”
In “Picturing New York … In a Tiny Midwest Town,” the Stair Public Library (SPL) focused on the art in the Picturing America collection that relates to New York City, creating a museum-like exhibit experience for their users, and following it with supplemental programming, including a jazz concert, author event, local art show, theme-related programs for children, and even access to a museum gift store and hot dog vendor.
Use of the Artwork
SPL created several galleries: the eight posters of art housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art were displayed in one room of the library annex, and the three housed at the Museum of Modern Art in another. A high school art show and other posters of New York subjects (such as the Brooklyn Bridge) or by New York artists were displayed throughout the library.
A local woodworker made beautiful wood frames from crown molding for the posters, and high school students painted the wood in gold, silver, and pewter tones. A $200 grant from a local foundation covered expenses for the wood, paint, and hanging hardware. Staff prepared explanatory text that was displayed next to each frame, along with questions about each work of art, to engage the viewer. The art was displayed for two months.
Other hands-on art projects included:
- one-point perspective drawings based on the Brooklyn Bridge photo, using a local historical bridge as the subject;
- collage inspired by The Dove; and
- scratchboard designs related to the Chrysler Building.
Programs and Ideas
A giant coloring page featuring a life-size drawing of George Washington as depicted in George Washington Crossing the Delaware was displayed next to the poster. All ages were invited to color the picture and appreciate the size of George Washington in the drawing was its actual size in the painting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
New York subway maps (nearly 4' x 5'), just like those in subway stations, were displayed in our entryways, and Manhattan bus maps and regular subway maps were available as handouts.
“M” admission buttons from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and green foam Statue of Liberty crowns were handed out as souvenirs as people arrived to see the exhibit and participate in activities.
The Paul Keller Trio played New York-themed jazz tunes in a two-hour concert. The performance included historical information about each tune before it was played. The audience was invited to sing along on some of the songs, and a Morenci resident known locally for her beautiful voice was invited to perform a solo, “Autumn in New York,” with the group. Before intermission, a local business owner dressed as the Statue of Liberty and recited “The New Colossus,” the poem at the base of the statue.
New York author Ned Vizzini discussed his book, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, and the process of it being made into a movie. His book features the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Walker Evans art poster was displayed adjacent to him during his talk. Vizzini discussed the similarities between the book and his life, and spoke candidly about mental health issues, including the negative effects of the pressure to excel.
An Art Museum Store (operated by the Friends of Stair Public Library) was stocked with items such as art calendars, magnets, sketch pads, pencils, postcards, and watercolor sets from the Metropolitan Museum of Art (they gave a 55% discount on their catalog items to support the library’s program); subway map gift bags from the Transit Museum store; Statue of Liberty crowns from City Merchandise; and Buddha Boards (painting with water). Many New Yorker magazine covers were displayed on the walls of the gift shop.
National Gaming Day @ your library offered New York-themed games such as Skullsey, stickball, stoopball, Nok Hockey, chess (as if in Washington Square Park), and hit-the penny. A variety of New York and art-related books and activities were set out on library tables for patrons to peruse and play with, including Masters of Western Art Painters Fandex and New York City Fandex, Modern Architecture Pop Up, three Metropolitan Museum of Art Can You Find It? books, City of Dreams construction set, Color Magic Sticker Play Book, and the Lego Empire State Building, in addition to the usual board games. Jigsaw puzzles of the Brooklyn Bridge and the New York City Subway map were set out on tables for patrons to work on during the week prior to National Gaming Day @ your library.
Don’t Eat the Pictures: Sesame Street at the Metropolitan Museum of Art was shown to the preschool storytime group, and art-related books were read to them during three regular storytimes in November.
The library’s monthly book discussion group read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn for November.
“Picturing America on Screen,” a series of short public television programs produced by THIRTEEN that feature the works of art in the Picturing America collection along with ideas for using them in innovative library programming. (Links to streaming content to come in September 2011.)
Don’t Eat the Pictures: Sesame Street at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (preschool film showing)
You Can’t Take a Balloon into the Metropolitan Museum by Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman and Robin Glasser (preschool reading)
It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini (YA reading and author program)
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (monthly book discussion)
Jazz selections (Word) performed by the Paul Keller Trio
Using art, music, and literature makes learning history more palatable. Paul Keller, before playing a particular tune, set the scene historically and provided links to the past that people could relate to. Students who created art based on the posters learned the related history from their art teacher. Library staff created short explanatory text for display with the posters. The project showcased the art, bringing the museums of New York to the tiny town of Morenci (population 2,400). It also made young people more aware of the world outside this small community. Community members always make positive comments about our student art exhibits and are amazed at the creativity of our youth and our art teachers. This instills pride in the community, and also sparks people to explore their own creativity.