While most students understand that objects inside museums have important cultural, ideological, economic, and art historical value, they don’t always recognize the role of these institutions to shape and reinforce such values. AHTR’s Visiting the Museum Learning Resource aims to help students think more critically about the broader implications of art museums and to better understand their integral relation to the study and practice of art history. 

Project History

In 2012, with support from a Baruch College Teaching & Learning with Technology Partnership, AHTR produced nine short videos that showcase the interior and exterior settings of well-known museums throughout New York City. Designed to suggest the experience of visiting the museum, these videos importantly allowed instructors to raise questions about museum design in their classes, regardless of the logistical challenges that often prevent organized field trips.

In 2018, a grant from CUNY’s OER initiative allowed AHTR to expand these resources with additional bibliography, adaptable lesson plans and assignment ideas, and strategies that both students and faculty can use to build greater understanding of museums as social spaces where embodied experience contributes to art’s meaning and value.  

We welcome feedback and suggestions about how we might improve this resource. Please send comments to

For Students

This resource is designed for students, but instructors may also adapt it for use in assignments that require students to visit museums on their own. It provides background information that may be useful to individuals unfamiliar with art museums, and suggestions for how anyone—including experienced museum goers–can make the most of their museum experience.

For Instructors

Faculty want art history students to have opportunities to engage directly with original art objects in museums or gallery settings. These experiences underscore the discipline’s central reliance on material objects as a primary source of inquiry, and reveal the underlying problems and implications of their use.

This resource offers adaptable lesson plans and strategies for museum-based experiences supporting course objectives related to

  • object-based study and research
  • visual literacy and communication of visual phenomena
  • critical analysis of museum collection and exhibition practices



Museum Spaces: Video Collection

The Lower East Side Tenement Museum

Teachers know that it’s not always possible to organize a group visit for large numbers of students, when class meets early morning or at night, or if transportation is not easily available. These short videos offer mini-tours of the spaces found in nine of New York’s best known museums. They can be used to prompt class discussion, raise broader issues, or prepare the class for visits to local exhibition spaces.




Additional Resources

In addition to the materials below, many museums provide online resources and professional development workshops for educators, appropriate for all levels of instruction.  Be sure to reach out to museum educators in your community and institution for additional resources and instructional ideas.