Past Projects: Africa

Girls Design the World: Supporting Green Communities with STEAM (2015)

  • Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, Minnesota 
  • National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya  
Design thinking is an effective tool for brainstorming and prototyping creative solutions to solve practical problems. The fields of science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, benefit from the inclusion of the artistic process, or STEAM, and empower girls to imagine creative solutions to challenges in their communities. STEAM can encompass a range of contexts from the development of household goods to urban planning. Though it originates in the engineering field, STEAM also involves the creative processes of brainstorming, sketching and modeling that precede the creation of a final product. Fifteen to 20 girls in Minneapolis and Nairobi will investigate how their cities are impacted by environmental issues in order to create and prototype ways to address those issues. They will conduct interviews with people impacted by environmental problems in their respective cities as well as create ten projects (five at each museum) featuring plans, sketches, models and charts. The participants will also produce a video for screening at exhibitions and distribution to schools, as well as plan an exhibition of their prototypes as part of a community event.

From the Ground Up: Nutritional Values and Cultural Connections (2013)

  • Gidan Makama Museum Kano, Kano, Nigeria
  • Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania  

High school students learn about nutrition, cooking and cultural food traditions by following local food from farm to table and creating recipe books that reflect the traditional recipes of their regions and cultures.

Next Stop: Brooklyn/Dakar (2012)

  • ImagiNationAfrika, Dakar, Senegal
  • Brooklyn Children's Museum, Brooklyn, New York

Young adults in the cultural hubs of Dakar and Brooklyn investigated the current and historical impact of migration in their two communities, as well as the roles of migrants in shaping a national cultural identity, by thinking about the issue from the perspectives of local youth.

P.A.U.S.E.: Pollinators/Art/Urban Agriculture/Society/and the Environment (2012)

  • National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya
  • Tohono Chul Park, Tucson, Arizona
  • St. Louis Zoo, St. Louis, Missouri

Youth from three urban centers joined forces with community organizers to lead learning events on urban gardening, native pollinators and artistic creation. Teams of participants then worked together to design and build citizen-managed gardens and pollinator habitats on vacant or abandoned land in each city.

Community of Conservation: Research Exchange Experiences for Global Youth (2011)

  • National Museum of Niger Boubou Hama, Niamey, Niger
  • Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, Illinois

Middle school students conducted original conservation research projects that explored concepts in animal behavior and ecological biodiversity. As they shared their findings, they learned about the similarities and differences between their local wildlife experiences and their cultures. 

Visit the Lincoln Park Zoo's Community of Conservation project page.

International Legacy Youth Leadership Project (2010)

  • The Apartheid Museum, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • The Mandela House, Soweto, South Africa
  • Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Birmingham, Alabama

Youth from Alabama and South Africa explored the parallels between the civil rights movement in Birmingham and the anti-apartheid struggle in Soweto, the role of youth in promoting social change and the implications of their societies’ past on contemporary life.

In Their Own Voices (2010)

  • National Museums of Kenya, Lamu, Kenya
  • Cincinnati Museum Center, Cincinnati, Ohio

With the help of museums and local community members, children in Cincinnati and Lamu learned to document oral histories and traditions with digital and virtual tools. As they discovered more about their own cultural heritage, they shared their stories and learned from those of their peers abroad.

Young Women Speaking the Economy (2010)

  • The Women’s Museum in Denmark, Aarhus, Denmark
  • The Ayala Museum, Makati City, Philippines
  • Sudanese Women's Museum, Omdurman, Sudan
  • International Museum of Women, San Francisco, California

Young women from four countries used social media and online applications to discuss their perspectives on everything from careers and work-life balance to weathering financial hardship and combating gender discrimination.

Visit the project's online exhibition.

Dear Mr. Mandela, Dear Ms. Parks (2008)

  • Nelson Mandela Museum, Mthatha, South Africa
  • Michigan State University Museum, East Lansing, Michigan

Using letters written by children to Rosa Parks and Nelson Mandela, the two museums and their partner communities raised awareness of the deep parallels between the struggles for racial justice in the United States and South Africa.