Harvard Art Museum Field Trip – January 6, 2015


The renovated Harvard Art Museums combines old and new–both in architecture and the work on display. The museum houses everything from Buddhas thousands of years old to new work by contemporary artists. 

Our goal in going to the museum is to:

  • Be exposed to terrific artwork from around the world
  • Think about and discuss what we see
  • Be inspired in our own work when we return to the classroom
  • Enjoy a well-earned day together as a class to celebrate art

Our essential questions include:

  • How can we apply our critical skills when looking at artwork to work in all media?
  • How do different artists and cultures express themselves visually and through the materials and subjects available to them?
  • How is art work curated (chosen and arranged), and how does this this affects how we ‘read’ artwork? 

Our assignment at the museum is to:

  1. Partner up! Explore the museum with another student. Visit every exhibit and discuss as you go. Choose a partner you can work well with–remember, you are on assignment! 
  2. Respond visually: Take photographs of the museum–at least one roll of film or 24 digital stills. You may choose to focus on the artwork, people looking at the artwork, the architecture, the experience of being with your classmates in the museum, or all of the above! You can take these photos as you explore. 
  3. Respond to each exhibit: With your partner, write a one (or more) sentence response to the exhibit while you are in the exhibit space. 
  4. Write about your favorite work: As you go through the exhibits, keep a list of your favorite pieces of art, and where these pieces are located. After looking at all the work, choose three favorite pieces of art from anywhere in the collection to write about. Go to the artwork with your partner. Discuss why you are drawn to the work. Get ideas. Take notes.  Why does this work inspire or impress you. Is it what it depicts? The emotion it conveys? It’s subtlety or boldness? It’s history? It’s craftsmanship or use of materials? Write one paragraph about each piece of work you discuss. Don’t forget to write the  title, artist and date. You may take a picture of each work on your phone or digital camera to include in your paragraph. 
  5. Turn it in: Each student is responsible for three paragraphs, along with their list of favorite works. You and your partner are responsible for a one-sentence response to each exhibit (only one sentence needed for the two of you). Email this document (or hand it on paper) to Mr. Gooder at the end of the museum visit. 

Check out the museum before we go: Harvard Art Museum website (Photography students should go to “Collections” and type in “Photography”)

The museum website also features “Hotspots,” which educate visitors about the artworks’ history and context: link to “Hotspots”

Here is a good article on the “new” museum, with a slideshow of images: New York Times Harvard Art Museum