Teens make history, potential careers with plays at Missouri History Museum

Teens make history, potential careers with plays at Missouri History Museum

FOREST PARK – Anyone who stops by the Missouri History Museum on Thursday and Friday mornings can catch the Teens Make History players performing a short work featuring art history and a slice of St. Louis. 

The Teens Make History program is an apprenticeship program through the museum that helps teens in the St. Louis area develop business and personal skills as well as delve into the world of history and museum work. The program recently received a $25,000 grant from the Bayer Fund. 

In the Teens Make History program, participants complete an eight-week program called the Teens Make History Academy, an introductory museum studies workshop. During the academy, the teens learn skills that are essential for any working museum: oral history, theater, research and marketing, to name a few. 

After completing the academy, they are invited to apply for apprenticeships at the museum in one of two categories: the TMH players, who focus on writing and producing plays; and the TMH exhibitors, who focus on exhibition projects. 

Two of the TMH players sat down with The SouthSider to talk about their experience in the program.

Grace Blair and Ahmad Hinds, who also goes by Kapp, have been part of the Teens Make History Program for three years. In 2016, they both participated in the Teens Make History Academy and, because they each felt drawn to theater, decided to apply to apprenticeships as players. 

They and the other actors research and write a play based on a theme provided to them by their supervisors. 

Currently, that play is “Flores Mexicanas: a Lindbergh Love Story,” about the work of Alfredo Ramos Martinez, who gave his famous painting to Charles and Anne Lindbergh for their wedding. The painting depicts four women surrounded by flowers. 

In the play the TMH players have constructed, a group of historians and curators at a museum research “Flores Mexicanas” and unearth a secret about the painting: A fifth woman was originally included in the painting but had since been painted over. Though the historians in the play never discover the reason for this, the play does showcase the research and care historians and curators take in their work.

Blair and Hinds both graduated from high school in the spring, which usually marks the end of the apprenticeship. But these players both stayed on for the summer as senior mentors, guiding some of the younger teens who are newer to the Teens Make History program. 

They said they were proud of their time with TMH, both emphasizing that the experience offered a wide variety of experience that they’ve appreciated. 

“It’s a good program to be a part of. You get to meet a lot of new people,” said Blair, specifically referencing a meeting she was able to attend as part of the program where she met with other museum coordinators and learned how other museums ran. 

For Hinds, the chance to be a leader was also important. 

“I like meeting new people. I like being a leader for people and showing them good direction,” he said. 

For more information about the Teens Make History Program, visit https://mohistory.org/learn/teen-programs/teens-make-history/.