Rapid Response Collecting Taskforce

Brooklyn Children’s Museum is the world’s first children’s museum. It has a collection of 30,000 objects meant to serve as educational tools. However, having been gifted mostly by wealthy white donors, the collection does not fully represent its community of Crown Heights, which is comprised largely of African-American, Caribbean, and Hasidic Jewish residents. From an ongoing collaboration between our teen program, created by Oasa DuVerney-Gaspar, and our collections department, overseen by Kate Calleri, 36 teens have interned in BCM’s collection. Building on these interactions, we have launched a TEEN RAPID RESPONSE COLLECTING TASKFORCE. Teens have gone out into the community; engaged with local residents, events, and spaces; and gathered objects they feel are important enough to be included in BCM’s collection. They have surveyed what is in the collection, generated a checklist for how to vet objects, and established a group vetting system. They will learn all Collection skills involved in accessioning objects, including registrarial, proprietor, curatorial, and collection management skills.  They’ve deemed gender fluidity, gentrification, criminal justice and immigration as important overarching themes around which to source objects. Objects they source and interpretation they generate will become the property of collections and will remain with BCM in perpetuity.