Huntington primary school librarians created a virtual Museum of Black History

Librarians Create Virtual Museum of Black History

Huntington primary school librarians created a virtual Museum of Black History

February 12, 2021

Black History Month is typically a time to educate, inform and spur discussion in Huntington UFSD, but the COVID-19 pandemic has uprooted traditional activities, so a group of primary grade level librarians has developed a new online initiative.

Rebecca Kraus has spearheaded the project, partnering on the initiative with colleagues Jeanine Caras and Christine Moakley. The trio has been curating resources, adding materials to the virtual library, selecting students to exhibit their work and creating slides. Mrs. Kraus mapped out the overall design and flow of the museum.

“The goal of the Black History Museum was to create a virtual experience that felt interactive for students, like they were exploring a real physical space with halls and, even, a library,” Ms. Kraus said. “We wanted each multimedia exhibit to spark interest and have enough information so that students would want to explore beyond the museum and learn more about the person they discovered. We want our students to experience stories of perseverance against all obstacles while becoming aware as well as inspired by the many contributions made by African-Americans that deserve admiration and recognition.”

Earlier this week the virtual museum had already grown to nearly 80 pages of exhibits. Clicking on various artifacts brings viewers to all sorts of interesting information, including multi-media presentations.

“Simulating a real museum, visitors can learn about the historical figure while interacting with exhibit themed activities,” Mrs. Kraus said. “They can view images of Jupiter and Saturn, which were made possible by Lonnie Johnson's contributions to the Galileo and Cassani space missions. They can view blood cells under a microscope just like Charles Drew or learn about soil like famed botanist George Washington Carver. They can listen to the timeless sounds of Steve Wonder and hear the golden voices of Ella Fitzgerald, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin and more. They can play an interactive piano in the Scott Joplin exhibit. They can discover STEM challenges in the innovators and scientists exhibit, take a virtual basketball lesson, and listen to the powerful words of Nelson Mandela. There are even virtual field trips to locations and museums associated with each person. Many of my students were amazed to learn that famed saxophonist John Coltrane's house is close by in Dix Hills.”

To access the museum, click on this link:

“This is a huge initiative spearheaded by our librarian, Mrs. Kraus,” Washington Primary School Principal Michelle Richards said. “It is an interactive museum that allows visitors to learn about contributions made by Black people throughout the world. As students respond to various tasks and assignments, their work will become part of the project.”

Students are making cross-curricular connections while exploring the online museum.

Ms. [Jacqueline] Duryea, one of our music teachers, taught her third graders about scat,” Mrs. Kraus said. “Some of my students asked if any of the musicians in the museum could scat, which made them want to explore further. I am so proud of our students when they can create independent connections when they discover new information. That is what library is all about!”

The virtual museum is available on demand 24 hours per day. “Our goal now is to move on to the next phase of adding the voices of our students to the museum by collecting and displaying student work,” Mrs. Kraus said. “As librarians, we are always proud to deliver user-friendly resources to our school community and look forward to future collaborations.”