Recommended for ages 7 and up. Head to the 4th floor’s North Gallery! Follow the directions to look for objects and start digging into these activities and conversation prompts.
Find the bronze figure of Harriet Tubman.
Size Up the Situation
This sculpture is actually a maquette, or model, for a much larger sculpture—Swing Low: Harriet Tubman Memorial—standing at West 122nd Street and Nicolas Avenue in Harlem. The figure you see here is almost two feet tall, while the final piece is 13 feet high, nearly seven times bigger!
Think out loud: What are some possible reasons an artist would make a small model before creating a large-scale piece of art?
Examine the symbols found all over Tubman’s skirt. After looking closely, each family member should chose one to describe to your group. What do they tell us about who Harriet Tubman was or what she did? (If you have a paper and pencil, you can also sketch your symbol).
Born into slavery in Dorchester County, Maryland around 1820 and originally named Araminta Ross, Harriet Tubman created networks to freedom. She not only escaped enslavement herself but helped many others do the same. During the Civil War she worked as a nurse, scout, and even a spy!
Strike a Pose!
Imagine you are posing as Tubman for Alison Saar, the artist. You can see Tubman’s arms, but what about her legs? How should you stand to create the sense of power and forward motion that is captured in the sculpture?
Notice that there are tree roots entwined at the back of her skirts. Discuss with your family: Do you think those tree roots are friends or foes? Are they propelling her forward or holding her back? Could they be doing both?
To hear Alison Saar talk about the sculpture in her own words, head over to the interactive screen and tap a hotspot.
Thanks for sleuthing! Choose another family guide to keep hunting.