The John Early Museum - Where students teach you

Say hello to Nashville’s newest museum. John Early Museum Magnet Middle isn’t just a school. It’s now a full-fledged museum. Armed with 10,000 artifacts donated by the Scarritt Bennett Center, the John Early Museum lets students and the community learn together.

John Early students have been using museum strategies and skills as part of classroom learning for two years now: artifact analysis, exhibit design, interpretation and storytelling. But until now they did not have a collection to use in applying their skills.

This collection comes from the Hartzler Towner Multicultural Museum at Scarritt Bennet, which closed not long ago. The school’s instructional designer Becky Verner connected with Stephen Gateley, who was charged with finding a new home for the many artifacts left in limbo by the museum’s closure.

There’s an El Diablo mask from Carnival in Brazil. There’s a chain mail suit from the Silk Road in the Philippines. There are African masks, traditional Japanese costumes, dolls from around the world and much, much more. It’s a real museum – and you can visit.

If you do stop by for a tour, chances are you’ll learn all about the artifacts from the students at John Early, who are helping to catalog and design exhibits around the artifacts. They are putting together the presentations and working as docents. It’s an immersive experience that really shows the approach to learning found inside of a museum magnet school.

It’s been a very good year for John Early. In addition to its new museum status, the school saw six times as many students qualify for the direct pathway to Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet School as it had last year. John Early students who meet the academic requirements can move directly into Hume-Fogg without having to apply.

The school and museum aren’t finished growing yet. The next phase is the design and construction of an addition to John Early that includes more classrooms, dedicated museum exhibit space, collection storage space, and community rooms. Ground breaking will take place this year.

The resulting museum will house changing exhibits from the Scarritt Bennett collection that will continue the center’s goal to promote the appreciation and understanding of cultural diversity in the arts, sciences, and history.

Be sure to follow John’s progress by visiting the school’s website.