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The GRPM Blog

Bringing Student Concepts to Life


February 1, 2023


Collaborating on Student Vision

The Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM) and the Grand Rapids Museum School have been teaming up for a super cool project that lets students bring their classroom learning to life by creating a real exhibit for the public to see. The Seminar is designed to give every 7th and 8th-grade student a chance to participate and create an exhibit that highlights the Museum’s Collections in ways that are not typically accessible to the public. This project is a unique opportunity for students to learn about creating exhibits and get hands-on experience with Museum professionals’ help, connecting them with the Museum in a new way. 

Since the Museum school opened, we've been looking for ways to integrate a Museum mindset into the student's curriculum. What better way than to teach how to share stories in an exhibit format? We wanted to give them a real audience to share their learnings with and to give them the opportunity to collaborate with Museum staff. I am really happy and grateful that we have staff here at the Museum who are willing to share their expertise and time with students.

The Process in Action

The project includes four touchpoints that bring together students and GRPM staff to guide students through the process of creating an exhibit. These steps are modeled after the exhibit development process used by the Museum.

Touchpoint #1: Exhibit Theme Introduction

A Museum curatorial staff member will come into the classroom and explain how museums choose exhibit themes. The class will brainstorm topics they're interested in and pick a theme by the end of class. The class will finalize their theme and make a list of objects they want in their exhibit.

Touchpoint #2: Artifact Analysis and Label Writing

Museum Education team leads an activity to help students understand the artifacts in their exhibit better, think about how they connect to the theme, and research any questions they have.

Touchpoint #3: Design Plan

GRPM Exhibits team teach the class how exhibits are curated and designed. Students will make a design plan with the staff's help. Students chose all elements of the graphic design from fonts, to color schemes and any additional images that would be used for the displays.

Touchpoint #4: Installation

GRPM Exhibits staff provide labels, case furniture & artifacts to help the students install the exhibit. Trough the installation process, every student is involved in the steup of the displays whether it is arranging artifcats or hanging information panels.

View the Finished Installation

Remembering Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II was born April 21, 1926 and passed away on September 8, 2022. The Queen’s recent death inspired our class to create this exhibit. We saw the outpouring of support from around the world on the news and social media and decided it would be fitting to commemorate her life in our local Museum. This exhibit includes information about her interests and personal style, important milestones in her reign, and how she was celebrated around the world. In our research, we became aware of some people who shared grief and frustration with the monarchy, so we wanted to address that as well. 

Comemorative Souvenirs

The coronation of Queen Elizabeth II was June 2, 1953 when she was just 25 years old. She was queen for 70 years and 214 days, making her the longest serving queen of England. Many souvenirs were made to commemorate her coronation and other significant royal family occasions and events, including marriages and jubilees. Jubilees celebrate important milestones in the reign of a monarch.

Featured Artifacts

The Remembering Queen Elizabeth II micro-exhibit can be viewed now through March 1st on the second floor of the GRPM. This exhibit was designed and created by Grand Rapids Public Museum School 8th grade scholars, led by GRPS teacher Amanda Irwin, for the 2022-2023 school year. 

A Word from the Public Museum School:

What is so great about this project is that students are diving into areas that they are interested in and curating an exhibit for the public. Curating an exhibit for the public elevates and gives further purpose to the exploration and work that students do to put the exhibit together. There is a higher pressure that exists when students are asked to demonstrate their knowledge and skill for someone other than their peers, parents and teachers. They are used to performing for a grade or a score, this exhibit is asking them to put a piece of themselves out for others to see and the level of product and pride in this work is much higher. The partnership with the Museum is essential for the exhibit to meet the expectations of the Museum as well as teach the skills and knowledge that the teacher needs to assess. When these projects go well students are exposed to other career paths, ways of thinking and adults who are passionate about their work. At Museum school we value the expertise of anyone willing to share with our students, especially the Museum staff, it gives students different teachers reinforcing the idea that we are life long learners and that learning takes place any and everywhere, not just in a classroom. Students in this class are fortunate to be able to have a voice and choice in their work, to collaborate with people of passion and produce work that not only meets a high standard but demonstrates their knowledge and skills in arenas that students feel matter.

Explore Past Student Exibits

Late Opening Notice.

On Saturday, May 11, the Museum will open at 12 p.m. due to road closures for the Amway River Bank Run.

Early Closure Notice.

The Museum will close at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, May 1 for Museum Adventure After Dark. Tickets are still available!