Classroom Conversations: Collaborative Learning from the Cravens Collection

Collage on selected African sculpture tied with blue and yellow beads straps forming like a clothing of each sculpture.

Artists once known (Dowayo, Cameroon), Fertility Dolls, Mid-20th C. Wood, beads, 5 x 5 x 5 inches (right); 5 x 5 x 11 inches (left). 


May 5, 2018–November 25, 2019



Each spring semester students in a museum studies course at the University at Buffalo work to further contextualize the diverse objects in the Cravens Collection by conducting research on the objects’ origins and uses. During the Spring 2018 semester, this ongoing project extended beyond UB by inviting two classes from Highgate Heights Elementary to participate in the process of understanding and interpreting these objects. Second and third-grade students from Highgate Heights visited the gallery several times to explore the collection, meet and talk with their college partners, and create artwork inspired by the selected objects. While UB students researched the objects themselves, the Highgate Heights students conducted research on the objects’ counties of origin.

Classroom Conversations is the result of this semester-long collaboration. Research by UB students on selected African objects from the Cravens Collection is paired with colorful artwork and research by their elementary school partners. This process-oriented/education-driven project and exhibition transforms the arts workshop space at the Anderson Gallery and explores the potential of the Cravens Collection as a valuable teaching tool in the broader Buffalo community. It is a first step in inviting more voices and perspectives into the interpretation and use of this collection. Presented in a dedicated learning space, the exhibition will support further arts and anthropology programming throughout the summer.


This exhibition and project are part of the Museum Management Class through the UB Anthropology Department and are supported by the Cravens Foundation Endowment.