Build Your Own Collection at Home

Nine yellow maple leaves arranged in a circle with stems toward the centerMuseums have collections. These collections are objects that the museum preserves, studies, and interprets. The MSU Museum’s collection includes cultural artifacts (objects made by humans) and natural history specimens (objects made by nature). The Collections Connections exhibit shows how these objects are collected, studied, and stored when they are not on display. Explore the exhibition in person or look at the images on the website to learn more.

Collecting is something that many people like to do, too. Anything can be a part of a collection, from spoons, to shoes, to leaves. People collect objects they like, that they find interesting, or that they want to share with others. What do you collect? What do you already have that could be displayed as a collection? Follow the instructions below to curate, organize, arrange, and display your collection!

1. Curate your collection

Decide what your collection is going to be. The collection can be things you already have at home or things you can find in nature. Your collection could be toy cars, shells, rocks, crayons, leaves, anything!

2. Organize your collection

Decide how you want to organize your collection. You can organize your collection by size, by color, by shape, by type, or in some other way – think about how many ways you could sort your collection and try them out!

3. Arrange your collection

After you’ve sorted your collection in a way that you like, you can arrange your collection. Depending on what objects you have, you could arrange your collection in a row, on a shelf, in a circle, on a table, or any way that you like!

4. Display and document your collection

Put your collection where you and others can see it. You could even make labels for your objects to tell people what they are. Take photos or draw a picture of your arranged collection to document it.


All leaves

38 colorful leaves on a white board

Maple leaves by color

Green, yellow, and red maple leaves on a white board

Leaves in array by color

17 fall leaves arranged in 2 rows from dark red to yellow


Artifact = an object made by human beings, such as a tool, a work of art, or a piece of clothing
Collection = a group of objects that are related or the same.
Curate = to organize, sort through, and select for presentation from a group of objects
Specimen = an object made by nature, such as an animal, a plant, or a mineral

Other Resources

The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History has a very large and interesting collection. Collection images can be found here:

Watch Curious George curate his collection of items found while participating in a city-wide clean-up day:


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