The Art and History of the Taft Museum
Upon a visit to the Taft Museum in Cincinnati, Ohio our class was prompted to create a piece of art or artifact to reflect on our visit and discuss the topic of visiting a museum more relevant in our current educational system.
Our Docent for our visit to the Taft Museum was amazing. Between her knowledge, excitement for the material, and helpful hints on how to educate students, she was extremely beneficial and inspiring to me as a future art educator. Our Docent looked at the museum as a classroom, rather than just a collection of art and artifacts.
I’ve become interested in the idea of intermingling classes with another teacher in the building, such as history. I'm particularly interested in collaborating with history because I believe the history of art is something that is not studied, critiqued, and ellaborated on enough in a primary and secondary educational setting. It's important to recognize and understand how art has arrived to where it is today. What a better place to hold this dicussion of history and art than in a museum?
The Taft Museum of Art would be a magnificent choice to hold a "class" for the historical heritage of the building in the city of Cincinnati as well for the sacred art within it's walls. The topics of discussion for the history portion of this lesson could focus on the historical context of the building, with a slight discussion on the architecture which would include the art aspect. The students would be asked a series of questions regarding the history of Cincinnati along with some questions about the architecture of the building. Moving from outside to inside the building, the students would be ushered in and out of the many rooms in the Museum portion of the home. In these rooms we will discuss the history of the house along with the art inside the rooms. The rooms are dedicated to time periods, making it easy to elaborate on the specific time period and characteristics of it.
We would extend particular historical context to various pieces in the museum that hold a certain level of importance in the art history time line. Students would be asked to evaluate these pieces and be able to answer simple questions regarding their content, context, composition, value, color, etc. This will open their ideas to not only how art was created in the specific time period, but also be able to recognize famous artists from that time period-- such as, Goya, Rembrandt, Millet, Corot, etc.
Upon returning to the classroom (in the school that is), students will be asked to create a visual piece of art responding to their experience from the Taft Museum. The work must reflect information that they gained from the visit. This could be their own self portrait using the style of Goya, a ceramic vase that reflects the imagery and style of the Qing Dynasty, integrating a "controversal" issue into their painting like Millet, or an architectural drawing/ mockett of their own "Taft" house.
The history instructor will then use their visual responses to trigger a written response that will include the historical topics that were dicussed during their visit. These could range in context and form as well, such as a letter written from the artist of an artwork to the Tafts, a research paper further investigating the history of the Taft's, Cincinnati, or a specific peice of work, lyrics to a song that prompted from the visit, or a poem of their response to a piece of work specifically. These written response pose as their artist statements for their visual work. Both responses, visual and written, will be displayed in an exhibit that will explain and demonstrate the knowledge they gained from the Museum.
This show will hopefully inspire educators in other departments to collaborate by triggering more project ideas for the students. The school must become a community of learning including adventures for the students, rather than segregated topics of discussions that are happening in classrooms today. We need to create experiences for our students, rather than just educating them from the comfort of their own desks.