THE UNIVERSITY of Findlays Mazza Museum will offer interactive art projects for children at the Hancock County Fair today centered around the picture book, The Keeping Quilt. A sketch from the book is pictured above. (Provided to The Courier)



The University of Findlay’s Mazza Museum today will make its first-ever appearance at the Hancock County Fair, offering interactive art projects for kids.

True to its mission, it will be promoting literacy and enrichment, employing the popular picture book, “The Keeping Quilt,” by Patricia Polacco.

“Quilt-making” sessions for kids will be held from 11 a.m. to noon, 1-2 p.m. and 3-4 p.m. today in the newly built Old Mill Stream Centre building.

Polacco’s “The Keeping Quilt” is a keeper for kids of all ages, and can bring tears to the eyes of adults.

A quick summary of the story:

When Patricia Polacco’s Great-Gramma Anna came to America as a child, the only things she brought along from Russia were her dress and the babushka she liked to throw up in the air when she was dancing.

When Anna later outgrew the dress, her mother decided to incorporate it and the babushka into a quilt. “It will be like having a family in backhome Russia dance around us at night,” she said. Together with Uncle Vladimir’s shirt, Aunt Havalah’s nightdress, and an apron of Aunt Natasha’s, Anna’s mother made a quilt that would be passed down through their family for almost a century.

From one generation to the next, the quilt was used as a tablecloth, a wedding canopy, and a blanket to welcome each new child through the generations of the family into the world.

That same quilt of Polacco’s is on display at the Mazza Museum.

Today, children will make their own “quilts” of card stock and paper, filling them with fabric patches of various designs and their own drawings.

“Anything they found in their little lives that are important,” said Heather Sensel, Mazza Museum education and volunteer coordinator. “Those are the ideas of a quilt. It’s things that your family has memories of that are quilted together so that you can lay them over you in life and use them.”

The back of each kid’s quilt will have a sticker reminding them that the original “Keeping Quilt” is on display at the Mazza Museum.

The museum’s galleries are open to free public viewing from noon to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays and from 1-4 p.m. Sundays.

Every three months, one of the museum’s six galleries changes. The museum is located in the Virginia B. Gardner Fine Arts Pavilion on the university campus, with parking nearby. For more information, call 419-434-5521.

The museum gets over 25,000 visitors per year, and it is planning an expansion, which will make it an even bigger draw and community resource.

Mazza Museum is planning an $850,000, 3,500-square-foot addition in the grassy area southeast of the existing Virginia B. Gardner Fine Arts Pavilion, said Ben Sapp, director of the museum.

Construction could start in spring 2020, he said. The state soon will be awarded a $350,000 grant for the project, which has the working name STEAM. It is a kind of play on the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) movement in education. The “A” in STEAM is for art.

“Not just any art, but the art found in picture books,” Sapp said. “That is what made the grant very unique, because of the original illustrations that we have from the Mazza Museum.”

The facility will have modern-day STEM-type technology and materials, from 3D printers to “possibly even a laser cutting machine,” Sapp said.

It will be used by Findlay City and Hancock County students and teachers as well as university professors and students.

“It will be a place where the students are interacting, the students are teaching, the students are creating things,” he said.

Wilin: 419-427-8413 Send an E-mail to Lou Wilin