NEW BRITAIN MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART

Studio Activities

Cityscape Collage (Grades 1–2)

Students will create original “cityscape” collages out of construction paper shapes and crayons, considering the importance of various community buildings such as schools, hospitals and police stations. Together the class will explore how the sights and sounds of a city can be communicated in an artwork through shape, line, and color.

Native American Hide Drawings (Grades 2–4)

The class will explore how different cultures record their collective histories, focusing specifically on the way that Native American Plains tribes keep track of significant community events through pictorial calendars called “winter counts.” After brainstorming key events together, students will create individual symbolic calendars to record important moments of their school year.

Mapping a Colony (Grades 3–5)

After discussing the significance of cartography during the colonial period, the class will work in teams in the studio to design a map of an imaginary colony. Students will consider the various natural resources that colonists needed to survive and the relationship between colonial and Native American communities and the natural environment.

Landscape Postcards (Grades 3–5)

Looking carefully at landscape paintings from the collection, the class will discover a variety of techniques that artists use to create the illusion of space. Students will then apply those methods to make handmade scenic postcards that showcase their favorite example of natural scenery. An optional follow-up activity asks students to compose messages on the backs of their postcards using sensory details and descriptive writing.

Artist Benches (Grades 3–8)

After engaging with unique works of “touchable” art in the galleries—our artist bench collection—students will translate their favorite works of art from the tour into miniature cardstock benches using a variety of coloring, multimedia, and 3D materials.

Narrative Collection Collage (Grades 4–6)

The class will begin this activity by brainstorming the key elements of any compelling story: setting, characters, and plot. Students will then create their own unique narrative collages using miniature reproductions of works from our collection. An optional follow-up activity asks students to title their artworks and write an accompanying story.

Hybrid Sculpture Challenge (Grades 4–8)

Students will engage with the forms, textures, and materials of the NBMAA’s ever-growing sculpture collection as they sketch elements of different sculptures. Working in groups, the class will combine them into collaborative “hybrid” sculpture designs.

Colonial Caricatures (Grades 5–8)

Using skills of observation, measurement and proportion, the class will enforce concepts learned in the Colonial Portraits Gallery by devising their own portraits. Students will begin by choosing a miniature body from the NBMAA’s portrait collection, then draw in facial features to create a colonial “caricature.”

Art & Poetry (Grades 5–8)

Students will explore the connection between visual and language arts with this writing workshop. Working in groups or independently in the galleries, students will create three different types of poems (haiku, couplet, and acrostic) that are directly inspired by works of art in the collection.

Math “Selfies” (Grades 5–12)

After discussing the mathematics of facial proportions, students will utilize classroom knowledge about the system of rational numbers to literally “plot” facial features as integers on the coordinate plane. The class will then add personalized details and color to create accurate self-portraits.

Gallery Sketching (Grades 5–12)

Spend some extra time in the galleries with our close looking sketching exercises or bring an assignment of your own. The NBMAA will provide paper, clipboards, and pencils for each student. The class will have the freedom to wander through a predetermined set of galleries to complete the self-guided assignment, and a Museum Educator will be available to answer questions.

Lewitt’s Lines (Grades 9–12)

Inspired by Sol Lewitt’s Wall Drawing #1196, students will create their own conceptual artworks by writing a set of instructions to be carried out by their classmates. Each participant will then try to follow the instructions of three different peers. The class will culminate with a discussion about the advantages and drawbacks of allowing other people to produce your vision.

Curator for a Day (Grades 9-12)

After an introduction to the NBMAA’s curatorial process, the class will work in teams to “curate” their own miniature exhibits of artworks that relate to a predetermined theme or question. Students will work together to write exhibition content, including a title and labels. 

Teachers will have an opportunity to select the theme(s) ahead of time to match course goals. Themes may include:

  • The Struggle for Freedom, Equality, and Social Justice
  • Cultural Diversity and a Uniquely American National Identity
  • Gender Roles in Economic, Political, and Social Life
  • The Role of CT in U.S. History
  • Economic Prosperity and Equity
  • Globalization and Economic Interdependence
  • The Impact of Geography on History