Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Montessori at the MoMA

My favorite picture from New York!  Don't you just love how the geometric solids and thousand cubes have been stacked to look like the city skyline?  

We hit the Museum of Modern Art last Wednesday, mostly because of how much we enjoyed the Pompidou on a previous trip to Paris.  Unlike the Pompidou, MoMA was (with a few exceptions...it was fun to see Picasso's "Three Musicians," Van Gogh's "Starry Night," Monet's "Water Lilies," and one of Frida Kahlo's self portraits) not really our thing.  But THEN, we wandered into the exhibition "Century of the Child:  Growing by Design, 1900-2000" and what to my wondering eyes should appear but a glass box full of Montessori materials.

Above is a photo of the information card accompanying the materials.  You should be able to click on it to make it larger.  Now, the phrase "Teaching materials conceived and commissioned by Maria Montessori" made me want to think that these materials are from Maria's original classroom but it doesn't say that they are.  It is very unlikely that they are as you can see that the color tablets are actually that...tablets...rather than wound in embroidery floss like the originals.  Unfortunately the card doesn't specify when and where these materials were gathered...but it COMPLETELY MADE MY DAY to see them any way.  Now I will always think of MoMA as the "Museum of Montessori and Art."  

I will include several pictures so that you can ogle adequately.  Again, you should be able to click on them to enlarge.  You can read a little more about the exhibition here.  For the sake of clarity, here is a list of what was included:

  • geometric solids (and two knobless cylinders?)
  • wooden 1000 cubes
  • wooden 100 squares
  • 10 bar
  • 5 bar
  • constructive triangles
  • color box one
  • sound cylinders
  • addition strips
  • cards and counters
  • insets and frames from a botany cabinet
  • large, cursive, movable alphabet
  • sandpaper letters
  • small movable alphabet

**I couldn't tell what was in the small box at the top right of the picture below.  I thought it may be just a box of unit beads or that one of the constructive triangle boxes is a lot smaller than I thought it would be (I diy'ed mine).

Food for thought:  Based on the placard and what was chosen, I highly doubt a Montessorian had input as to what to put in (I personally would have used golden beads, not wooden cubes and squares and what?...NO pink tower? LOL!).  It is interesting to see what a potential outsider would choose from the shelves to place in a "box" to represent Montessori for all time.  It is also interesting to think about what *I* would choose to put in instead.


  1. WOW! That is really cool! I totally ogled it decided that you are right. I would have added pink tower and probably a cylinder block too! But that it is still way too cool! I'm so glad you took pictures for all of us to see!

  2. This is so cool! I'm glad you took pictures :) I'm sure my selections would have been different, too, but I love it regardless.

  3. Wow! Definitely eye candy. Thank you so much for sharing.

  4. Lovely!!!! as Melissa said, soooo glad you took pictures!!! I never went there!! But I have to. Thanks for sharing

  5. It's awesome that there's a Montessori exhibit at the Museum of Modern At! I also would have chosen some different materials, but I like the exhibit as is, too. Thanks for taking the photos for us all to enjoy! I shared your post at the Living Montessori Now Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/LivingMontessoriNow