For her eighth book, The Museum of Lost and Found (Abrams), Leila Sales arranged an inventive event in keeping with the theme of her middle grade novel. In the story, sixth grader Vanessa discovers an abandoned museum near her home and creates an exhibit about her former best friend, hoping to understand what went wrong between them. Last month, a dozen sixth and seventh graders from a variety of schools across New York City attended a free one-day “make your own museum” camp arranged by Sales at the Jewish Museum in Manhattan. We’ve gathered highlights from the program. All photos by Lisa Leighton.

The day kicked off with Sales talking to the students about her book. They asked her a number of questions about the writing process and sought advice for stories that they were writing.

Museum curator Rebecca Shaykin walked around the galleries with Sales and the kids. They discussed the role of a curator, how to decide which objects belong in a museum, and how to arrange those objects spatially.

After lunch, the students did a team curation exercise: they were given a selection of photos of objects from the museum’s collection and together they decided on a theme for an exhibition and which objects would belong in it.

After that, all attendees got to create their own model museum on a topic of their choice.

At a “gallery opening,” the students shared their museums with one another and with museum staff who stopped by. Here Zahra showed her Museum of Dance.

Layla and Lita presenting their Museum of Food.

Ida and her Museum of New Beginnings.

Callie with her Museum of Imperfections.

At the end of the event, Sales signed copies of The Museum of Lost and Found for every attendee.