World Art Museums in Your Classroom

Responding to art is an important process in an arts classroom and can be a valuable strategy when integrating art into other content areas.  But not all classrooms have collections of art prints like many art classrooms have.  Here is a repost from my educational technology blog about Google's Art Project:

Some pieces of artwork have had a profound impact on me. Dorothea Lange’s "Migrant Mother" is one such image that, for me, epitomized the despair of people during the Great Depression.

This image resides in the Minneapolis Institute of Art so, as a resident of Minneapolis, I can see it in person. But there are lots works of art that aren’t as accessible, that are housed in museums in Chicago or New York or even further away in England or Russia.  Now it's possible to take your class on a virtual field trip to many of these museums thanks to the Google Art Project.

Google started this project several years ago and now has over 30,000 high resolution images online from more than 300 museums from all over the world.  So now its possible to see collections from the Art Institute in Chicago, the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Tate Museum in England, and even the Hermitage in St. Petersburg Russia.

Here is a Youtube video that provides a nice overview of the project:

Think about projecting a famous painting in your classroom, zooming in on sections to highlight details, and doing your very own visual thinking strategy with your class--as if you were standing in front of the piece of artwork in the museum.  Try using the Visual Thinking Strategy with your students as you are viewing the painting: “What’s going on in this picture? What do you see that makes you say that?  What more can we find?”

Equally cool, for some of the images in Google Art Project, you can click on a street view icon and zoom into the actual museum room to see how the art is displayed, and perhaps even more importantly, get a sense of its scale.  Check out this iconic image of Washington Crossing the Delaware.  If you search in the Google Art Project and go to museum view, you might be surprised by its actual size.

Searching in Google Art Project can be frustrating since there are thousands of pictures and hundreds of museums.  The search tool only searches titles, images are not tagged so searching for flowers or still lifes will bring up a nice sampling, but something more specific like Mississippi River reveals nothing.  As you begin to find images that you want to keep track off, you can create personal galleries.  This feature would be ideal for gathering the artwork so you have it readily accessible for the classroom.  If your students have access to computers or laptops, you can share your collection for them to view individually.  For your gallery collection to be viewed as a slideshow and images enlarged, be sure to make it public and access it from its shareable url address. Here is a collection of historical photographs that I gathered when preparing this blog. 

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