Statues Hardly Ever Smile

Directed by
Lathan, Stan, American, born 1945
Produced by
Chamba Productions, founded 1971
Created by
Collins, Kathleen, American, 1942 - 1988
Produced by
Garrett, Kent, American, born 1941
Subject of
Brooklyn Museum, American, founded 1895
Owned by
Bowser, Pearl, American, born 1931
acetate film
Duration: 19 Minutes
Length (Film): 750 Feet
16mm motion picture film of Statues Hardly Ever Smile
16mm color film directed by Stan Lathan and produced by Chamba Productions for the Brooklyn Museum about a program to bring children from the local community into the museum to create performance art. Includes footage of children interacting with objects in the museum and creating performances based upon their reaction.
A 16mm color film directed by Stan Lathan and produced by Chamba Productions about a program to bring children from the local community into the Brooklyn Museum to create performance art.
The film begins with the camera panning around a room with many cases in the Brooklyn Museum. Children are heard in the voiceover narration describing the statues. The footage also includes close-ups of some of the statues. The next scene shows children and young adults following spoken directions to pretend they are holding various objects in their hands. The narrator describes how the children spent time in the rotunda of the museum for six weeks, and there is footage of the children participating in dance exercises in the rotunda. The narrator describes the idea for the project to bring children together with an object and create a performance around that. The next scene shows an object and children touching the face of another object. Some other children are shown in front of a different museum object and holding the same pose as that object. Children in the voiceover narration describe thinking about the objects and questioning what the people depicted in the objects are doing. As the narrator describes, the children participated in improvisation based on the space and the objects around them. The footage includes a group of students discussing how to put on an improvisation based on an object. The next scene shows the students performing the improvisation in the rotunda that they created. One of the boys reflects on how he did the improvisation. In the next scene, the students perform a dance while a man plays a drum. The next scene shows a man playing the piano and singing and the children sing along with him. The music accompanies a montage of the students doing various activities shown in the film. The final scene shows the students leaving the museum, a bus traveling a city street, one of the students exiting the bus and greeting some friends as the credits appear. The film ends with children playing in a circle on a playground.
Place filmed
Brooklyn, New York City, New York, United States, North and Central America
Collection title
Pearl Bowser Collection
Media Arts-Film and Video
motion pictures (information artifacts)
Instrumentalists (Musicians)
Singers (Musicians)
Urban life
Credit Line
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Pearl Bowser
Object number
Restrictions & Rights
No Known Copyright Restrictions