Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Museum visits bring history lessons to life for Pinellas students


On a mid December morning, sixth-graders from Pinellas Park Middle School gathered around ancient artifacts and artwork at the Museum of Fine Arts. They sat or stood with clipboards amid oil paintings and sculptures. They took notes about Hindu deities and listened to stories from museum docents for their final essays.

"I think their favorite part and my favorite part is the connection between what I've taught them about and seeing it in real life," said Rebecca Buidens, a history teacher at Pinellas Park Middle. "They ask me if these are the real artifacts."

More than 1,800 students from across the county have visited the museum's permanent collection since October, part of its new program to connect art with Pinellas schools' history curriculum. By the end of the school year, an additional 4,500 students are expected to visit the museum.

Linda Whitley, the school district's social studies supervisor, worked with the museum's curator of public programs, Anna Glenn, to develop the museum as a history source for students.

"It was my belief that art is a reflection of the time and helps us understand periods of history," Whitley said. "It shows that these were real human beings that lived their lives, not so different from the lives we live today. It helps the kids make a really strong connection with their lives."

Teachers draw lessons from the permanent collection, which includes ancient Western, African, Asian and other civilizations. The exhibits ask students to identify characteristics of those societies, such as how they gathered food and governed themselves.

Tabitha Shorter, a world history teacher at Bay Point Middle School, had her students make a replica of an artifact and share it during a "Night at the Museum" at Bay Point.

"Our world history curriculum calls for us to look at ancient societies," Shorter said. "We strive to expose our students to take deeper thoughts about how civilizations conducted their daily routines such as we do now."

Whitley enlisted Pinellas history teachers to help develop the curriculum. The Pinellas Education Foundation's Hundley grant allows the school district's visual arts department to cover costs for transportation and ticketing.

"I would really like to see that we were able to help students see the connection in the art museum, the social studies curriculum they are working on, and connecting that to what it means to be a visual artist," said Sue Castleman, visual arts director for Pinellas schools.

Students get vouchers that allow them to return with their families. Whitley sees it as a chance for students to bring their families and be the expert.

"Museums are a place they can explore to learn about other cultures, to learn more about what they like," said Glenn, the museum's curator of public programs. "It's the idea that they can share with their parents what they have learned."

Museum visits bring history lessons to life for Pinellas students 12/19/13 [Last modified: Thursday, December 19, 2013 5:53pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Jameis Winston's hardest lesson: He can't always save the day


    TAMPA — Ever wonder what in the world goes through Jameis Winston's mind when he tries to fit the ball in a keyhole as he is being dragged to the turf like he was during Thursday night's 12-8 preseason win over the Jaguars?

    JACKSONVILLE, FL - AUGUST 17:  Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers attempts a pass during a preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on August 17, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) 700069805
  2. Despite pain, woman in court faces ex-boyfriend who lit her on fire



    Sheron Pasco sat in the wheelchair as her mother pushed it toward the man in the orange jail suit.

    Sheron Pasco, 39, right, along with her mother Tranda Webb, 62, pose for a photograph Wednesday, at their home in Port Richey. Pasco's former boyfriend John Riggins doused Pasco with gasoline and set her on fire after an argument last year.. CHRIS URSO   |   Times

  3. Florida starter under center still under wraps


    GAINESVILLE — With two weeks before Florida opens its season against Michigan, the Gators' three-way quarterback battle remains wide open.

    Luke Del Rio, right, is in the mix to start against Michigan in the season opener … as is Malik Zaire and Feleipe Franks.
  4. A sports rout on Wall Street


    NEW YORK — Sporting goods retailers can't shake their losing streak.

  5. Rick Kriseman picks Floribbean restaurant for Manhattan Casino

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG— Mayor Rick Kriseman has chosen a controversial restaurant concept to occupy the Manhattan Casino, saying he made a decision 11 days before the mayoral primary because he didn't want politics to get in the way of progress in struggling Midtown.

    Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson speaks during a Friday press conference announcing that the Callaloo Group will open a Floribbean restraurant in the historic Manhattan Casino in St. Petersburg's Midtown neighborhood. Some residents were upset with Mayor Rick Kriseman's choice, saying it will speed up gentrification of the area. [EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]