MacDowell - Episode 3 - The History of the Colony

Viewing Guide and Teacher's Resources


Download a Printable Version

Grades 7-12

Curriculum Applications

Social Studies
Arts Appreciation

Overview

Marian MacDowell, creator of the MacDowell Colony, has been identified as a "significant figure in American cultural history." She invited her first colonist to Peterborough in 1907, and lived to 1956, when she died at age 98. She had vision and purpose and was a tireless worker, fundraiser and builder for the Colony. Unlike most other late 19th Century colonies which were developed around a charismatic figure, the MacDowell Colony with its rules and routines was the result of a specific plan carried out by Marian and a New York-based board of directors. They developed a colony to provide artists with tranquility and fellowship regardless of social status or income. Artists are chosen with consideration of talent and seriousness of purpose. A common question is: "Who is at MacDowell now who is famous?" and the reply is "We don't know... yet."

Focus

Students viewing the History of the Colony episode will recognize the effort it takes to build something worthwhile and lasting through the qualities demonstrated by Marian MacDowell and the support that she gained through the community of Peterborough.

Previewing Activities

  1. Have students discuss the qualities (strong, visionary) of a person who develops something that is worthwhile and lasting. Ask how those qualities compare to those demonstrated by artists as they develop a work of art.
  2. Have students brainstorm: "What is an artist?" and "In what different mediums might an artist work?"

Focus for Viewing

  1. Direct students to find examples of the various personality traits that helped Marian MacDowell successfully develop the Colony.
  2. Why is Marian MacDowell considered a "significant figure in American cultural history" and who else would join her on that list?
  3. What various mediums do colonists work in?

Post-Viewing Activities

Hold a class discussion or have students write an essay on the pros and cons of "affiliation of the arts." Ask students to do a reflective writing on a task they think is "worthwhile and lasting," and to which they could consider dedicating a lifetime, even if it means "doing without."


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