Head of Smithsonian Tours Pop-Up Museum Created By B-CC Students

Institution’s secretary says he was impressed by artwork


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Students from Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School have gotten news coverage and an outpouring of praise on social media for their pop-up museum on the lives of teenagers.

Last weekend, they welcomed a special guest who's as interested in museums as anyone—the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.

David Skorton, who became the Smithsonian’s 13th secretary in 2015, visited the Museum of Contemporary American Teenagers on Saturday and left quite impressed.

"It was evocative and powerful. Powerful is the word I'd use to describe the whole installation," Skorton said Tuesday in a phone interview.

Skorton said he was moved by the portrayal of the pressures that teens face over everything from their personal appearance to turning in college applications.

B-CC students filled an empty space on Wisconsin Avenue with murals and exhibits meant to educate people about what it’s like to be a teenager. The installation, which covers topics from gender fluidity to ride-share harassment, debuted this month and was open through Dec. 16.

Skorton decided to drop by after reading a Washington Post article about the museum. Since becoming secretary of the Smithsonian, he's tried to visit as many museums and galleries as possible. He said he enjoyed seeing how B-CC teens approached the challenge of presenting their visitors with information.

"It was a reaffirmation for me that young people, the future of our audience, the future of our world, that they want to receive their stories in multiple ways. They like traditional forms of expression and they like newer forms of expression," he said.

In a tweet after his roughly hour-long visit, Skorton wrote about the importance of arts education and said he appreciated the way B-CC students were “tackling thorny issues teens and adults confront in creative, nuanced ways.”

Bethany Rodgers can be reached at bethany.rodgers@bethesdamagazine.com.

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