The new Kentucky Academic Standards for Social Studies present a goal of “producing graduates that are civically engaged, socially responsible and culturally aware.” Museums such as the Frazier History Museum are poised to serve as key partners in that important work.
Two important additions to the new standards include the integration of the inquiry process and the call to make meaningful connections to Kentucky at all grade levels. Museum exhibits and programming inherently support inquiry by inspiring students to develop thoughtful questions, providing primary and secondary source evidence for examination, and as a possible avenue for students to share their conclusions with a wider audience.
As the place “Where the world meets Kentucky,” the Frazier Museum ties larger themes and topics back to our state in unique ways and is well-suited to support teachers and students in making Kentucky connections, both on-site and in the classroom. The following topics will be highlighted at the Frazier during the 2019-2020 school year and can be tied into a school’s curriculum in a variety of ways:
Kentucky music: Kentucky is often credited for its role in the development of bluegrass music, but the state also has produced seminal figures in nearly every significant movement in American music — from ragtime to country, folk to blues, jazz to R&B, and classic rock to hip hop. The “Celebrating the Sounds of Kentucky” exhibit highlights the history and culture of Kentucky music.
Kentucky’s connections to suffrage and voting rights: In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment and the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, suffrage and voting rights will be at the forefront of the museum’s 2019-2020 initiatives. The “What is a Vote Worth?” exhibit, opening March 2020, will place Kentucky’s suffrage movement within the context of the national movement and draw connections to current issues.
Live performances on the topic, such as the story of Kentuckian Cornelia Beach, will be available both on-site and as outreach performances at schools. The Frazier has partnered with Jefferson County Public Schools to produce an in-depth, inquiry-based resource that aligns with the exhibit and is available to all schools. Multiple professional development sessions will be available on the topic. The Frazier also will house a community calendar of suffrage events.
Local connections to the Underground Railroad: Thornton and Lucie Blackburn stood on the banks of the Ohio River in Louisville on 4th of July weekend in 1831, bravely preparing to take their first step toward independence and escaping slavery in Kentucky. The couple’s story is momentous and inspiring, one that every Kentuckian should know. Students will discover the Blackburn story and several others within the Frazier’s “Underground Railroad Travel Kit” that is mailed to schools.
Schools may utilize the lesson and mail the kit back or reserve an actor to perform at school, including figures such as Levi Coffin and Harriet Beecher Stowe. The actor will then return the kit to the museum. Professional development sessions on the topic also are available.
Kentucky farming: Kentucky poet and farmer Wendell Berry was quoted as saying, “Eating is an agricultural act.” We are all involved in the agricultural process, and the Frazier will take part in teaching about our role as individuals and the contributions and innovations of Kentucky farmers in the guided program “Kentucky Farms: Growing our Past, Present and Future.” The live performance of “Kentucky Farming Through the Years” is available on-site and as an outreach experience.
Kentucky history: Kentucky’s ties to national events are covered in our “Kentucky Pioneers and Tools of the Trade,” “Brother Against Brother: Kentucky During the Civil War,” and “Lewis and Clark” programs. These topics are available for on-site guided programs, as well as outreach performances/travel kits at your school. Learn more on the Frazier’s School Programs webpage.
KentuckyShow! Experience the people, sights and sounds of the state woven together in a high-definition film. This show explores the ways Kentucky’s past, present and choices for the future converge to create an utterly unique and powerfully engaging place. Student groups may add a viewing of KentuckyShow! to a visit at no additional cost.
Art + history: Frederick Law Olmsted was an artist who used trees and rocks as his medium of choice. Through exhibitions such as “Olmsted’s Louisville,” the Frazier often offers exhibits and programs that intertwine both art and history. Literacy joins the mix this fall with the Edgar Allan Poe series, including an exhibition, student matinee performances, an evening performance series and student art displays inspired by Poe’s work.
In addition, the “Violins of Hope” exhibit will give a voice to the horrors of the Holocaust through the collection of restored violins played by Jewish musicians. A free teacher professional development session related to the exhibit will take place on Oct. 23.
Megan Schanie serves as the manager of school and teacher programs at Louisville’s Frazier History Museum.