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        Be the Curator | Ford's Theatre

        How did people react to Lincoln's assasination?  Students curate an exhibit utilizing the resources of Ford's Theatre's Remembering Lincoln website.

        Lesson Summary

        By introducing students to the concepts of exhibit design, students will use Remembering Lincoln artifacts to create their own online exhibit. 

        Note: While this lesson focuses on using the Remembering Lincoln artifacts, it could be easily adapted to have students create their own exhibits using artifacts from Google Arts and Culture or Smithsonian Learning Lab.

        Time Allotment

        Three class periods.

        Learning Objectives

        • Identify the elements of a museum exhibit.

        • Create an online exhibit that tells a story and includes a takeaway message for the audience.

        • Sort primary and secondary sources in order to identify which sources best help tell the story in the exhibition.

        • Use images and text to create a cohesive tone for the exhibit.

        Prep for Teachers

        Look through suggested exhibits and platforms to decide which to use with your students.  


        • Online Exhibit Scavanger Hunt 

        • Online Exhibit Planning Guide 

        • Online Exhibit Descripition Checklist

        • Online Exhibit Rubric

        Guiding Questions

        • How do curators create a museum exhibit?
        • How elements make up a museum exhibit?

        • How do curators tell a story through artifacts and images?

        Introductory Activity

        Introduction to Online Exhibits

        Begin class by asking students if they’ve been to a museum. Ask them to share their experiences with visiting museums. Make sure to draw out what they liked or didn’t like about how different exhibitions were set up. 

        Explain to students that they will be creating their own online museum exhibit about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln using artifacts, images, and documents from the Remembering Lincoln website. 

        Pass out the Online Exhibit Scavenger Hunt Worksheet. Review with the students the four parts of setting up an exhibit:

        • The Story: The Focus of the Exhibit.

        • Take Away: One piece of information the viewer should walk away with after viewing the exhibit—similar to the thesis statement for an essay.

        • So What?: Explanation of how this exhibit relates to the viewers.

        • Mood: The overall feeling the viewers should walk away with.

        Depending on the needs of your class, you can review an online exhibit together, in small groups or individually. Students should then fill out the Online Exhibit Scavenger Hunt Worksheet. 

        Here are some recommend exhibits for the Scavenger Hunt, but you can use whatever exhibits work best for your class.

        Learning Activities

        Exhibit Planning

        Share out the Exhibit Planning Guide to students. Students should begin planning their own exhibit; this can be done individually or in groups. Here are a couple examples using the Remembering Lincoln resources:

        StoryTake AwaySo What?Mood
        The Trail of the Funeral Train Lincoln’s body traveled the United States so that Americans could say goodbye to the martyred president. The modern funeral rites of political leaders stem from Lincoln’s Funeral Train. Morose
        Chasing After Lincoln’s Killers The hunt for Lincoln’s killers was one of the most significant manhunts in U.S. history. The manhunt for Lincoln’s killers, and their subsequent trial, set a precedent for how the country dealt with political violence. Exhilarating
        The reactions of everyday people to the Assassination Lincoln’s death affected people from all walks of life in many different ways. How people reacted to Lincoln’s death affected how the country came back together after the Civil War. Heartbroken

        There are two ways students can plan their exhibit. 1) They can decide on their story first and then browse resources that support their story. 2) They can browse resources and mark the ones that interest them. Once they have a collection, they can look at the items and find a story that connects them. Once they find their story, they would refine their artifact collection to make sure everything matches their story and take away. 



        Culminating Activity

        Exhibit Production 

        There are many different platforms that allow students to create their own exhibit. Here is a comparison of three different platforms that we are familiar with. Regardless of what platform you use, review the how to guide with your students. 

        PlatformGoogle Arts and CultureSmithsonian Learning LabKid Curators
        TypeOnlineOnline3D School Exhibit
        How To Guide
        Text Inclusions Title (150 Characters) Description (800 Characters) Title (Unlimited characters) Description (unlimited characters) Unlimited text options
        Remembering Lincoln Sources Some resources are available through the Ford’s Theatre Collection: Students can add items from the Remembering Lincoln website to Smithsonian Learning Lab Unlimited use of items

        Review the description writing checklist with your students and have them finish their exhibit and share it with you. 

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