Thursday, August 15, 2013


This week we welcomed Upstairs/Downstairs, a playful new puppet display created by AmeriCorps Museum Educators Mandy Roach and Bridget Sullivan. Mandy described their inspiration and process as they worked with the Museum’s collection of Betty Huestis marionettes.
We threw around a lot of different ideas before Bridget came up with having a large kitchen on top and a smaller kitchen underneath the floorboards so it’s kind of a play on scale. If you look at the top, it mirrors the characters and objects below. You can imagine it goes from big to small to smallest and that if you could look under the mouse house, maybe there’s a flea or cockroach kitchen!

We went through the collections and decided what puppets and characters and other collections items we were going to use. I really loved the old toys and wanted to incorporate them in the display, either as toys or by transforming them into something else. That’s where my inspiration came – for the things we didn’t have, what were we going to create and how?

I made the couch from a lot of recycled materials, like old jewelry boxes, fabric, crayons, corks, buttons – materials you can imagine that a mouse might use to make its own couch. The stove is a metal cup with belt buckles for the burners and the whole frame is a potato masher. If you keep looking, you can really see the props and the details and what they’re made of. I hope kids are inspired to think, “I can make that” from materials they have at home!
Bridget added, "I really liked that we were able to incorporate the idea of spatial thinking into the case with different perspectives and the scale of the two kitchens – and that it was an exercise in spatial thinking for me to create the components in the scene!"

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