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Collective Experiences

Exploring Warhol’s works and Time Capsules helps kids connect with their own creativity and the world around them.


Make Family Time Capsules

Grade Level: All

Materials Needed:
A shoebox
Packaging tape
Heavy duty permanent marker
Bookbags, backpacks, briefcases, or purses and their contents

Try it:
Get together with your family at the end of a busy weekday and empty out the contents of your bookbags, backpacks, purses, or briefcases. Discuss each separate collection of artifacts and consider these questions:

  • What does each person’s collection of things say about them?
  • What do these objects grouped together say about your family and your culture?
  • If someone were to discover these items 1,000 years from now, what would they learn about you, your family, and your

Select items from each person’s collection to send to the future. Place them in the shoebox. (If you want to include more items in your time capsule, use a larger box, and before taping it shut, keep it open for a month. Set aside time every week to add more.) Put the lid on the shoebox and secure it well with the tape. With the marker, write everyone’s names and the date on the box. Decide on a date for the box to be opened—perhaps a family vacation, Labor Day picnic, graduation, or family reunion five or ten years from now. Mark the box with the year it will be opened. Put the box in a safe place where it won’t be forgotten.




After exploring Warhol’s works and collecting practices, seventh graders from Pleasant Hills Middle School gathered objects that represented their lives and current popular culture to create their own time capsules.

As any parent knows, it often can be tough to get kids excited about anything—especially learning. Yet, each year at The Andy Warhol Museum, the Education department devises innovative ways to get children—especially hard-to-reach teens and preteens—interested in learning about themselves and the popular culture surrounding them using Warhol’s work and artistic practices as inspiration.

“ We’re really about encouraging children to critically and creatively connect with their world. The more they develop their skills and the more they can actually analyze and criticize and think thoughtfully about the world of popular culture that surrounds them, the better equipped they are to deal with the world,” says Jessica Gogan, assistant director of Education at The Warhol.

Last year, Andy Warhol’s Time Capsules, a large-scale exhibition of Warhol’s personal archives, inspired “Collecting as an Artistic Practice,” a program that encouraged children in the seventh grade at Pleasant Hills Middle School to learn about themselves and their culture by looking at Warhol’s collecting practice and their own collections of personal items.

“Our seventh graders did a small time capsule, where they collected things in a shoe box just from that period in their life—you know, a month in seventh grade,” says Pleasant Hills Middle School art teacher Mike Fratangelo. “That’s the age when kids really start to form
their identity, and their stuff really means something.”

“ I thought it was fun making my own collection. I brought in a scrapbook page, and that represented that I like to scrapbook and take pictures of my friends. It brought out a lot of different perspectives of myself,” says student Jennifer Brody, who also included her lucky sock and an article she carried around in her purse for its aesthetically pleasing colors and pattern.

Students also learned more about their culture and each other by contrasting and comparing their creations. When the collective work of their time capsules was displayed at school, it stimulated frequent questions such as, “What would people looking at these time capsules 1,000 years from now know about our culture and about you?” that encouraged students to think like anthropologists.

After completing many activities during the nine-week, multi-disciplinary curriculum program, the entire seventh grade visited The Warhol over two days. There they further reflected upon the relationship between collecting and reproducing current culture as they viewed Andy Warhol’s Time Capsules and some of Warhol’s other works.

Many of the students were visiting the museum for the first time and enjoyed discovering Warhol’s diverse art forms. A few of their favorite works: the touchable art of Silver Clouds, a room containing floating Mylar pillows filled with helium, and the Disaster series that Warhol made from appropriated newspaper stories about turbulent events in the 1960s.

Now entering eighth grade, Brody credits the “Collecting as an Artistic Practice” program for her emerging creativity and a deeper appreciation of art. “That was the first time I had ever been to The Warhol. I liked how you had to think about the art for a little bit. It’s more fun if you look at something and think about it,” she says.

A visit to The Andy Warhol Museum is likely to be an enlightening and memorable experience no matter what a visitor’s age. While some of Warhol’s imagery at times may be inappropriate for young children, The Warhol employs cautionary signs to help parents make the most of their visit.

To help children learn to think analytically and creatively, families visiting The Warhol can work together with artist educators in the collaborative environment of the museum’s Weekend Factory (every Saturday and Sunday, 12-4 p.m.) to explore Warhol’s artistic practices and cultural themes as they participate in various art-making projects. The Warhol also invites the public to use its Mellon Resource Center, an interdisciplinary library for all grade levels that is open by appointment.

For help planning a fun and informative visit to The Warhol, parents can visit the museum’s Web site at or call the education department at 412.237.8300.

Education programs at The Andy Warhol Museum are made possible by generous gifts from Mellon Financial Corporation, The Grable Foundation, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, The National Endowment for the Arts, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Surdna Foundation, W.L.S. Spencer Foundation, Verizon, and YouthWorks.

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