Grade K-2, Grades 3-5

Adam Had a Great Fall – Big Time Art Restoration for Elementary Classrooms

Remember Humpty Dumpty? Well, the King’s horses and men should have taken him to New York City’s Museum of Modern Art. Maybe then Humpty could have been put back together again.

That’s where a team of experts put back together the marble Adam statue created by Tullio Lombardo a very long time ago. After standing up since the 1490s, Adam crashed off his pedestal around 6 P.M. one Sunday night in 2002.

Adam‘s Numbers
75 – inches tall when standing
28 – number of recognizable pieces
(not counting hundreds of tiny bits)
12 – years to fix
3 – organizers of the restoration team
3 – fiberglass pins; 1 in left ankle and each kneAdam MOMAe

A STEAM*-Powered Fix: Adam even had to go to the hospital for scans. Everyone needed to see the cracks and weak points inside the marble. So he had scans that showed he needed a nose job and foot, hand, knee and head operations. Now the artists, scientists and engineers working together knew just how to fix Adam.

The full story as told by the New York Times is here. Three videos (one time-lapse) showing the restoration are here.

Elementary-Friendly Activities

1. *STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math. Define each term at a level suitable for your class. Ask students to find/create one image to denote each term. Create an illustrated word wall, photo album, slide set, etc. for STEAM.

2. Adam stands 6’3″ (75″). Get familiar with what that means: compare to each student’s height; go on a school (or home) scavenger hunt to find other items that equal 75″; convert to metric; figure out how many Adams could fit across the classroom floor, down the hall, etc.

3. Split students into groups of 3. Provide each trio 28 pieces of a construction object (modeling clay balls, large dry pasta, foam pieces, marshmallows). Provide 3-5 adhesive or connector options (glue, rubber bands, tooth picks). Each trio must assemble the tallest possible ‘statue’ with 28 pieces of the construction materials and ONE of the connecting/adhering options. Statues must be free-standing. Trios present statues to each other, including: name, construction materials, dimensions, hardest part of task, most fun part of task, 2 things they wish they could have to make it better (STEAM expertise, a particular material, …anything) & why these would help.

4. Memorize/recite the original Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme. Rewrite it to tell the story of Adam – as a class. Rewrite it one more time – in trios – to describe the story of how each trio’s statue was assembled (including how it fell at some point).

5. Consider: An old-school conservator named George L. Stout once said that it was wrong to explain how a statue or any art gets fixed. Letting out the secret that the art may have weaknesses was bad. In fact, asking about art getting fixed was the same as asking “about the digestive system of an opera singer.” Is this still the case (see the MOMA videos before answering)? What would Mr. Stout say about today’s ideas on fixing art?

6. Provide samples of marble objects. Ask students to provide/name/select objects that are softer or similar in hardness to marble. As a class, devise a rubric of descriptive terms and simple tests (touching/squeezing) to quantify the continuum of hardness. Older kids: research how relative hardness (of already hard material) is determined.


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