Use the online version of the National Museum of American Art's exhibition Metropolitan Lives: The Ashcan Artists and Their New York. This site contains images of paintings and historical documents that students can use along with the exhibition text to get a sense of what life was like in turn-of-the-century New York City. If computer space allows, have students browse independently through the exhibition and use one of its paintings or documents as a basis for their historical fiction. Have them ensure the factual integrity of their stories by studying the text and documents included in Metropolitan Lives as well as other online sources.
If space prevents students from conducting research on their own, then
download, print, and post some of the imagesfrom the exhibition with their
accompanying text. Encourage students to consider the entire in-class "exhibition"
before beginning their drafts. They might write about a figure in one of
the paintings or create a story that includes two or more characters from
different works of art. Make sure that students pay close attention to the
accompanying exhibition script to ensure that their stories are historically
Last Modified September 19, 1997