Ancient Art Workshop at Nelson-Atkins



This morning we visited the Nelson-Atkins Museum for a workshop on Ancient Art Discoveries. The workshop started with the instructor leading the kids in a conversation about modern words and symbols, and how they are used to communicate. The instructor used a set of easily recognizable flip cards featuring symbols/signs from stores, restaurants and brands. The kids were then instructed to watch the ancient art for meaningful symbols and words, then we were off for our tour of the museum. On our tour, the kids learned about several different stone carvings, the use of words and symbols in those carvings, and how the combination of words and symbols were used by ancient civilizations to express ideas and communicate.

After our tour we were back in the meeting area to create our own symbolic art – metal engraving and embossing. The kids were each given a two small sheets of metal, one was gold and the other was silver, which was taped together around the edges. The kids were shown how to press down with a pencil to draw the words, pictures, symbols, etc. on their metal sheets, which makes an engraving. Once they had their drawings completed, they used a popsicle stick to make deeper lines. They then flipped over their metal sheets to expose the grooves (embossing) and used black paper and a white crayon to make a white on black rubbing, and then switched to white paper and a black crayon to make a black on white rubbing. At that point, the workshop was over, and the kids all went home with some really beautiful art!

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The workspaces for the kids with the metal sheets on felt and an Egyptian hieroglyphs sheet

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Identifying symbols in Native American art

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Viewing a stone carving and discussing how the pictures tell a story

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Viewing Egyptian carvings with hieroglyphs

Discussing the use of cuneiform and carvings from the Assyrian Empire

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Engraving the metal sheets

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An example of an engraved sheet

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Creating a white on black rubbing using the embossed side of the sheet

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And a black on white rubbing

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An example of the three finished pieces – they look great!

Thanks so much to the Nelson-Atkins for our workshop today! Our instructors did a wonderful job of guiding the kids through the museum and showing them how to create some beautiful art!


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