Welcoming Our New Community Partner, Cumbe!

04_Cumbe_logo_lockupsWe’r so excited to be working with the Cumbe Center for African and Diaspora Dance in Brooklyn. Barely over a year old, Cumbe has exploded as a destination for those wanted to participate in the arts and culture of the diaspora. When we met with Jimena Martinez, Cumbe’s co-director, it was evident that both of our institutions had quite a bit to offer one another.

So what will our partnership look like?

First, in order for our students to learn even more about Senegalese culture. they will be participating in Senegalese dance and percussion workshops. In addition, Cumbe is assisting in our securing interviews with Senegalese artists and activists within the Brooklyn community and, lastly , Cumbe will be one of the locations where we screen the film and have an roundtable discussion with the public at the end of the project.

We’re so excited for this multi-layered partnership that allows us to have another layer of community engagement and cultural immersion for our youth. Stay tuned for photos and updates!

How Apartheid Helped Brooklyn Students Learn About Exhibit Planning and Creation

Students in Brooklyn recently visited the now-closed Rise and Fall of Apartheid: Photography and the Bureaucracy of Everyday Life at New York’s International Center of Photography. The exhibit combined film, photographs, as well as archival documents and traced apartheid from the initial election of FW de Klerk to the post-Mandela era.

There are so many ways to tell stories with photos, how will we chose? +Marie L, 16

The goal of the field trip was many fold. We wanted to begin dialogue on photographic/photojournalistic ethics, explore how to tell someone else’s story primarily through images, and begin investigating the many ways an exhibit could be laid out. What struck me as an educator was how little students knew about apartheid, but once we were over that initial hurdle, students were engrossed in the exhibit. In fact, as our tour guide lead us through, I had to routinely fetch students who were lagging behind, reading captions.

Students really enjoyed how the exhibit contrasted white South Africa with the rest of the diverse, caste-based population and were awe-struck by the up-close images of violence.

How are we going to be able to tell a story this good? +Tyrell, 15

After the trip, we debriefed and talked about how the exhibit was primarily via the eyes of trained, adult photojournalists and curators who spent a great deal of time putting the exhibit together, Next Stop is through their [youth] eyes and it’s about what they see with honesty, so there is no point in comparing. They got it and they continue to reference the exhibit as we plan and execute our next steps. Goal attained.

Using Social Media to Facilitate Program Outcomes

For the Next Stop: Brooklyn/Dakar project, we have several outcomes, one of which is: “Basic photography and filmmaking skills are learned.” One way we are measuring this outcome is via Tumblr. One of the indicators by which this outcome is measured is: “Each country’s students post at least 10 captioned pictures per month to Tumblr.”

We began posting to our Tumblr in January and will continue to do so throughout the duration of the project. As an extra layer of cross-cultural youth engagement, students in both Dakar and Brooklyn will critique and analyze one another’s photos and discuss them during our monthly Google Hangout sessions.

Check out our Tumblr page to get a peak at what we’ve been doing.

Teens in Brooklyn Learning About Exhibit Development

Participants learning from Erik Fiks, BCM’s Exhibit Manager.

As part of the Next Stop: Brooklyn/Dakar project, participating teens in Brooklyn are learning how to create/develop, install and curate exhibits. Over the course of the project, they are meting and working with various professionals from the Museum. Recently, they met with Erik Fiks, the Museum’s Exhibit Manager, as they embark on what will culminate in a multimedia installation.

Learning About Dakar

Students in Brooklyn presenting research on Dakar, Senegal.

Next Stop: Brooklyn/Dakar is more than a cross-cultural program. In Brooklyn, we’ve built in ways to bolster literacy, creative and analytical thinking, public speaking and research skills.

In one workshop, we separated participants into research groups and gave them the missive to find out as much as they can about Dakar and Senegal. We then had each group do an 8-10 minute presentation followed by a question and answer period.

What we found was that each group really focused on different topics and that was a plus. We learned about everything from systems of government and currency, French colonization, foodways, arts, culture, education and more. This was a prerequisite for our first international, internet-based group meeting with the project participants in Dakar.

Exploring Representations of Africa @ Brooklyn Children’s Museum

The first step in working with our NSBD program participants was gauging what they know or perceive about the continent of Africa. Of course, they know about Africa via Geography and may have learned a bit in their social studies classes, but what else did they know?

We decided to find out in one of our first workshops and they came up with a list that included:

  • Colonization
  • Diverse wildlife and topography
  • Natural resources such as: gold, diamonds, lithium, salt
  • Genocide
  • The birthplace of civilization
  • Slavery
  • Animism, poly- and monotheism
  • Hunting and gathering

We delved a bit deeper into some of the topics and moved to their thoughts on how Africa, as a continent, is represented via

the media and education. A partial list included:

  • Poverty
  • War
  • Famine

Then, students had the opportunity to explore how the Museum represents Africa within our current exhibitions and they came up with words like:

  • Creative
  • Rich
  • Lush
  • Culture
  • Diverse
  • Artistic
  • Community

It was important to understand where they were knowledge-wise and what their impressions were as we begin our investigation of Dakar/Senegal in Brooklyn and this lead to a great conversation about representation and the production of knowledge. As NSBD will culminate in an exhibition, we are sure to have more conversations about representation as we explore how the region is represented at other cultural institutions.

Brooklyn Youth Working on Next Stop: Brooklyn/Dakar

We’re excited to begin working with youth on the project! Here’s about half of the group and they’re in grades 9-12 from public, private and charter high schools in Brooklyn!

We’re so lucky to have such a diverse group of young people, which will definitely add to the richness and texture of the project. Stay tuned as we’ll be posting updates of them conducting research, interviews, attending lectures and being fully engaged in Next Stop: Brooklyn/Dakar!


BCM Welcomes Visitors from the Dept of State’s Cultural Preservation and Development Leadership Program


The Brooklyn Children’s Museum was excited to host four Senegalese cultural workers on a cold Thursday afternoon. They were eager to hear about the Next/Stop: Brooklyn Dakar Project as well as explore our space and learn about our collections.

What was supposed to be a 45 minute visit turned into nearly two hours and our visitors were really excited to learn about BCM and ImagiNationAfrika; so much so that we are working on ways to collaborate and build and even deeper, richer project.

Here are: Mr. Oumar Ben Khatape DANFAKHA, Director, Louga Cultural Center;  Ms. Fatou Binetou DIENG, Director, Pikine Leopold Sedar Senghor Cultural Center; Mr. Latsouck NDIAYE, General Manager and Scheduling Officer, Cafe des Arts; and Mr. Thomas THIABO, Director, Cultural Center Parcelles Assainies marveling at our collections.