Visiting the Museum

Funded by a Baruch College Teaching & Learning with Technology Partnership, the following short videos focus on the museum spaces NYC art survey teachers might send students as part of a response paper. This model can be replicated for museums in other regions. 

Use them in class as part of pre/post visit preparation in conjunction with the Museum Visit Resources handouts below. Don’t want to read the spiel below? Watch us talk about it here.

Art history survey courses are often taught to jumbo classes and/or classes that meet early morning or evening.  Teachers for these courses use the same global art history syllabus and most assign a museum paper during their class that asks students to visit a museum to visually analyze a work of art, and to consider the politics of the museum space – how, why and where the artwork is located in the museum.

It’s not always possible to make a teacher-led museum visit with jumbo or early/late classes. Existing projects such as Google Art Project and Google Maps allow students in the classroom to see some elements of museum spaces, but these short videos focus students’ attention on exterior and interior institutional spaces in order to bring the museum space into the classroom lesson.

The Studio Museum in Harlem

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Rubin Museum

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

MoMA PS1

The Lower East Side Tenement Museum

The Brooklyn Museum

The museum videos are for use as teaching tools in the classroom. Use them to introduce your students to the space before they visit on their own, or as a discussion exercise once they’ve made their museum visit and before they write their paper.

Some questions for your students to consider (see the Observation Prompts handout for a longer list):

  • Start taking notes from the moment you begin to see the museum as you walk up to it from the street. How does the museum building relate to its surroundings? Is it similar, different, larger, smaller?
  • What is the exterior interior like? Is it decorated? Can you tell what style of architecture it is? How does it relate to what you see inside?
  • What is the entrance lobby to the museum like? How does it shape the beginning of your museum visit?
  • Who is attending the museum? What is the general atmosphere like?
  • How are the galleries organized? Why do you think the galleries and exhibitions look the way they do? (Think about wall color, lighting, interior arrangement, etc.).
  • How is your object displayed? What other objects is they near to, and why?