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Ideas & Inspiration

Are you interested in bringing your class to the Museum, but not sure where to begin? Here you can browse your colleagues' innovative approaches to object-based teaching. Museum visits can connect objects directly to course themes, while simultaneously creating a space for experiential learning and honing important transferable skills. These include close observation, visual and critical analysis, questioning assumptions, evidence-based reasoning, working collaboratively in diverse teams, creative response, and research using primary sources.

Five College Assistant Professor of Anthropology Elizabeth Klarich and students examine ancient Peruvian vessels
Archaeology of Food
Anthropology 216
Archaeology of Food

Elizabeth Klarich, Five College Assistant Professor of Anthropology

In this course, Professor Klarich and Museum staff guided students through closeup examinations of ancient vessels.

Arts of Islam
Arts of Islam: Book, Mosque, and Palace
Art History 271
Arts of Islam: Book, Mosque, and Palace

Michael Davis, Professor of Art History

Through investigation of major works produced in the Muslim world between the seventh and seventeenth centuries from Spain to India, this course explored the ways in which art and architecture were used to embody the faith, accommodate its particular needs, and express the power of its rulers. Topics included the calligraphy of the Qur'an, illustrated literature, the architecture of the mosque, and the aristocratic palace.

Workshop of Joos van Cleve (Flemish, 1485-1540), The Holy Family (detail), ca. 1520
Atomic and Molecular Structure
Chemistry 325
Atomic and Molecular Structure

Himali Jayathilake, Senior Laboratory Instructor, and Maria Gomez, Professor of Chemistry

Traversing disciplinary boundaries, this science lab used infrared spectroscopy in the Art Museum to examine hidden layers of paint.

Students examine early coinage and manuscripts
Early Muslim/Christian Encounters
Religion 337/Medieval Studies 300
Early Muslim/Christian Encounters

Michael Penn, Professor of Religion

Over multiple visits to the Art Museum, this course focused on using coins and manuscuiptions as primary evidence.

First-Year Seminar students discuss their observations of a Judy Pfaff sculpture
Entropy
First-Year Seminar 110
Entropy

Dylan Shepardson, Assistant Professor of Mathematics 

This interdisciplinary First-Year Seminar examined the concept of thermodynamics through visual analogies. Contemporary works of art provided a catalyst for class discussion and opened a dialogue on the scientific concept's societal impact.

Professor of History Desmond Fitz-Gibbon and students
History of Money and Finance
History 252
History of Money and Finance

Desmond Fitz-Gibbon, Assistant Professor of History

Students in this course interpreted the history of money using a variety of coins and money-related objects.

Place and Power in the American West and Pacific World
Place and Power in the American West and Pacific World
History 271
Place and Power in the American West and Pacific World

Christine DeLucia, Assistant Professor of History 

This course examines dynamic histories of Native American tribes, Euro-American "explorers" and colonists, cowboys and miners, Asian immigrant laborers, and mariners, all of whom helped create interior and oceanic worlds. It focuses on natural and human changes in specific locales, and also explores how public histories at these places shape the present and future.

Film Studies students work collaboratively to compare and contrast images according to formal artistic elements
Shakespeare and Film
English 312/Film Studies 380
Shakespeare and Film

Amy Rodgers, Assistant Professor of English

This customized museum visit focused on the visual analysis of photographs as a preparatory exercise for analyzing film. The classroom activities were also designed to strengthen students’ skills in collaborative group work, oral presentations, and supporting an argument in a written paper. Supporting materials for this museum collaboration include a “Visual Reading Exercise” that guided students through their examination of an artwork’s formal elements—dimension, lighting, geometry, and mise-en-scène—and a “Close Reading Film Analysis Paper.” 

Art History Seminar, The Lure of the Past: Collecting Antiquity
The Lure of the Past: Collecting Antiquity
Art History 310
The Lure of the Past: Collecting Antiquity

Bettina Bergmann, Professor of Art History

This course demonstrates the rich potential for students to conduct primary research at the Museum and present their findings creatively. Over the course of multiple visits to the Art Museum, students each conducted an in-depth study of an ancient object in the Museum’s collection and then designed an exhibition using this object as a touchstone. The course profile below includes pdfs of an “Object Research Report” assignment, an “Exhibition Rationale” assignment, and a preview of one student's innovative final project.