Illuminated Manuscripts in the Classroom

Initial Letter of Genesis, The Wenceslas Bible c. 1389

Despite the fact that this NY Times story about teaching kids the techniques of medieval illuminated manuscripts never uses the words monkmonastery, Bible, Catholic, church, or even religion (do Times writers get some kind of bonus in their paycheck for that?), it’s still an interesting subject.

Her class at the Gordon Parks School for Inquisitive Minds (P.S./I.S. 270) in Queens is part of the Morgan Book Project, which aims to instill in children of the digital age an appreciation for books by providing authentic materials to write, illustrate and construct their own medieval and Renaissance-inspired illuminated manuscripts. The free program was developed by the Morgan Library and Museum with the New York City Department of Education for public school grades 3 through 7.

Ms. Owens said she thought her students acquired a greater affinity for physical books after designing and building one. “They see the process involved and can look at books as an art form,” she said. “When I suggest that they are doing something that keeps this art form alive, it makes them feel important.”

Institutions like the Morgan, with collections drawn from the printed word, are balancing the digital and physical worlds with their offerings and finding ways to embrace both. Marie H. Trope-Podell, book project creator and manager of gallery programs at the Morgan, said that although the book project was a way to instill the importance of physical books in the next generation of readers, “it is not a rebellion or reaction against the digital book — quite the opposite.”

Read the whole thing.

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