Bring an Art Museum into Your Classroom


We went on a field trip to the Indianapolis Museum of Art last week. A docent took us on a small tour of some of the artworks inside the museum.  Besides looking at the artwork and trying to make sure that none of the students wandered off to other parts of the exhibit, I found myself thinking about how art museums display a piece of art.

  • It is Simply Displayed Simply - Typically, each piece is displayed by itself and free from other influences. 
  • Surrounded by White or Black - Art is usually enveloped by white or black walls and rooms.
  • Open  - An art museum has a lot of space to move around the works of art. It has room to look up closely and to take a step back and observe at a different angle.  It provides you with the best viewpoint to view the artwork. (Except for this Fault in Our Stars reference that was there.) 
  • Focused - There is always only one "topic" per display. You will see themes in pieces of work. You will see links between works. You will see whole rooms of an artist's works. You will not ever see a hodge-podge of randomness in an art museum. There is a ton of calculation that goes into the display of artwork. It must be done exactly how the artist had imagined it all fitting together. 
  • Thoughtful Ponderings - Our docent was all about asking us what "sensations" or "feelings" the art gave us. She was looking for us to interact with the art. To think about the art. To look beyond a glance at something. She wanted my students to become the art. 
  • Lighting - They put a great deal of thought into illuminating what is the most important. They don't light up the walls. They light up the artwork. They don't light up the floor. They light up the artwork. They don't light up the ceiling. They light up the artwork. 
As an educator with a background in graphic design, I see lots of potential for aspects of the design world to filter into the school culture. Teachers need to effectively communicate their material to their students and their parents and community.  

As we are ending school and reflecting on the school year and how we can get better, thinking about how museums display artwork can have a major impact on how you design your assignments/ projects/units and how you design your classroom in the future. 

Keep it simple. Keep it focused. Illuminate what's important.  

A couple shot from our day. 





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