A four-step museum activity for exploring art objects from
Choose a work of art to look at closely. Look at it quietly for 60 seconds.
- Without looking back, make a list of what you saw:
- Look again. Correct your list. What else do you see now that you missed
the first time?
- Sketch a miniature drawing of this art object:
- What materials did the artist use? What tools did s/he use?
- How many different colors can you see? What names would you give the
- How many different kinds of lines can you find? What words would you
use to describe them?
- How would you describe the object's texture: How many different textures
can you find?
- How would you describe its overall shape? How many different shapes
exist within the overall shape?
- This work of art is mostly (check one):
- On your sketch, mark where the focus of attention is in this art object.
How has the artist drawn your eye to this spot?
- Why is this spot important?
- Which of the design elements are most important in this work of art-line,
shape, texture, or color? Why?
- How is the surface of this object decorated?
- What tools and materials were used to create the decoration?
- What visual elements were used to create the decoration?
- Where-if at all-does the artist use pattern on the object?
- Draw the repeating part of the pattern in the space below:
- What images-if any-does the object represent?
- What is the purpose of this work of art?
- Imagine (then research) the place this object was made or used. What
people are around? What are they doing?
- What kind of architecture and plants are around?
- Imagine (then research) the occasion this object was used:
- What is the weather like?
- What sounds would you hear or what smells would you smell if you were
on the scene?
- Imagine (then research) what the person who made this object was like:
- Imagine (then research) who the owner of the object might have been:
- Were they one and the same? If not, how do you think the owner acquired
- If you were a reporter interviewing the artist, what questions would
- Research the craft and the culture it came from. Write your researched
answers under your imagined answers. How close was your imagination to
- How do you think the artist felt about this object?
- How do you think the user of the object felt about it?
- Why do you think the artist created this work?
- How are the artist's or owner's personal beliefs or values revealed?
- What object in your culture serves a similar purpose? Why?
- What object in your culture has a similar appearance? How?
- What other art medium could this object be translated into? Why would
this be a good choice?
- How easy is this work of art to understand? What else would you like
- Is this a work of art you would like to own? Why or why not?
- If you would not like to own this art work, why do you think it is
in this collection?
Copyright 1991, Susan K. Donley. All Rights Reserved
Teachers and Museum educators!
Interested in more engaging activities like this one for
learners of all ages? Don't reinvent the wheel: email Sue Donley at the
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