Books, pencils, desks and chairs, and some decoration here and there.
These are all items you would expect to find in your typical school, but at Paul Lawrence Dunbar M.S. 301 you can now also find… a museum.
On Thursday, March 1, the ribbon was officially cut on the new Community School District 8 Museum in Morrisania in what was once considered a forgotten school in the south Bronx.
Publicly acknowledged as a shining beacon of promise and education because of its new addition, the museum was created by its students in partnership with the New York Historical Society.
The mix of sixth, seventh, and eighth graders created museum exhibits to reflect and explain different periods of history with a twist.
The students implemented the use of art and new technology to give more interactivity to their exhibits.
“When I told my mom we were going to make a museum she expressed doubt, but now she’s really proud,” said Jeremiah Rodriguez, a seventh grader at the school.
The students crafted and completed the exhibits in less than four months, working with the NYHS on everything from how to curate their exhibits to implementing the use of iPads and how to make the pieces more dynamic to audiences.
The museum occupies a space on the first floor of the building.
When visitors first walk into the school, it looks just like any other educational facility.
Turn to the left and you are led down a hallway, marked by signs and banners, a screen broadcasting the schools’ student success, and sounds of exhibit explanations playing on a loop.
“We worked really hard on this, like this was some back breaking labor type stuff,” joked another seventh grader, Jayden Cooke.
Some of the exhibits included ‘Native People of New York,’ ‘Industrial Innovations,’ and the ‘American Revolution in Print.’
“Old logic will tell us this museum makes sense somewhere like the Upper West Side,” said principal of M.S. 301, Hesham Farid.
“But District 8’s commitment to equity and excellence tells us there’s no better place for this museum than right here in the heart of the south Bronx,” he continued.
The museum also exhibits work created by other elementary school students at P.S. 69, P.S./I.S. 71, P.S. 72, and P.S. 130, schools that also reside within District 8.
“This story of success is us, as a family, saying we will not fail the children of District 8,” said superintendent of District 8, Karen Ames.
The exhibits, which reflect the past, are intended to educate and also engage visitors in current discussions about the future of the world on a local and global standpoint.
“Over the past four years, we’ve had such an honor of becoming members of the District 8 family,” said Daniel deSantis from the New York Historical Society. “I am so proud we committed to helping make this museum a reality and we look forward to future projects.”
The museum is open to the public and can be accessed by entering the school through their Cauldwell Avenue entrance and signing in at the security desk.