A student paints an art installation in the house that will host a pop-up, student-run museum in March. Credit: via mocatpopup.org

Local students are transforming a vacant house in Bethesda into an art installation exploring how they experience and process fear.

Among the topics highlighted are school violence, climate change, sexual violence, pressure to fit in among peers and a loss of privacy. The art will include paintings, murals, sculptures and performances.

In March, a makeshift museum created primarily by Bethesda-Chevy Chase and Walt Whitman high school students, along with others from across the county, will operate in a vacant house in downtown Bethesda, an extension of a similar event the past two years.

On Thursday, students will host a “preview night” from 5 to 7 p.m. at Booeymonger on East-West Highway, where the student creators will be available to meet the public. There will also be performances and a showing of the musical “Spring Awakening” at 7:30 p.m. across the street at the Round House Theatre.

The home housing the museum is the former rectory at Bethesda Presbyterian Church on Wilson Lane.

“This idea of fear is very prevalent right now, and, in general, our generation has been experiencing fear through an interesting lens others maybe haven’t,” B-CC student Yael Chiappori said. “This will give people an inside look at that.”


Last year’s museum focused on “toxic aspects of teen culture,” like the inequalities of the college admissions process, the effects of social media, and white and male privilege.

The first installment was about the lives of teenagers, with topics ranging from gender fluidity to ride-share harassment. The first year’s work drew national media coverage and a visit from the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.

The Fear Itself museum will be open to the public March 20 to 22.


There will be professional speakers, students performing songs, dances and spoken word, and a ball. The ball will serve as a fundraiser, as the students hope to renovate — with the help of a local architect — the house for use by a homeless family when the pop-up museum closes.

Students began working on the project in December. More than 40 students from across the county have contributed to the effort.

Throughout the process, students have collaborated and “learned a lot from each other,” B-CC student Anna Hoover said.


“It’s been cool to see people plan how the pieces could work together and, for a lot of people, it’s been an outlet for their emotions,” Hoover said.

Students have created a PayPal account for people to donate money to cover the house renovations. They also are interested in finding more students to get involved and in donations of supplies for the museum or furniture for the house.

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdamagazine.com