James Madison’s Montpelier
Exhibit Design: Proun Design, LLC
Exhibit Budget: $100k
Illustration: William Hook & Leslie Evans
Reference: Elizabeth Chew, Director of Exhibits
“Children who have been silenced often enough learn not to talk about race publicly.
Their questions don’t go away, they just go unasked.”
- Beverly Daniel Tatum, Educator
Studies show that children begin to build biases based on race as early as 4 years old. A new children's exhibit at James Madison’s Montpelier addresses the subject of racism and the slavery that was practiced at this plantation—perhaps our most challenging exhibit to date!
Informed by a convening of scholars, descendants, and early childhood exhibit professionals, Proun developed exhibits that help children and parents broach the subject of slavery and racism. Exhibits introduce the concept of skin color, life on a plantation (and who does the work), and profiles of enslaved children that once lived here. Interpretive panels and children's books about race help guide care-givers in the navigation of these sensitive topics. Children are encouraged to weave fabric phrases of encouragement into a weft before they leave.