Art is probably one of the most difficult subject matters to teach. Sure, as long as the kids are young, and happy to paint and craft in class all is well, but as soon as they grow older and crafting is “something for babies” and art history is “dull and boring” you’ve got a problem as teacher.
I always had a love hate relationship with art during school. I did not like the classes but loved to learn about art outside of school. There was a great series on German TV called “1000 Meisterwerke” – 1000 masterpieces – from the big museums and galleries around the world. Each episode focused on one of them and the narrator went through every detail of the painting in about 10 minutes. He gave the back story of the painter and painting such as when and why it was painted and what the painter wanted to tell through their art.
Today I want to share three resources for art teachers that can be used in class to hopefully spark interest and passion for this great subject matter.
1. Google Art Project
Everyone who visited a museum to see paintings of the great artists knows that the most fascinating thing about them are the details. You start with the big picture and then go closer and closer to examine all of the small aspects. This is a great experience and something that cannot be transmitted through books where zooming is limited.
The Google Art Project is not only a great resource of artworks and collections from across the globe but it also has this great feature that lets you zoom into the picture. This way students can also experience the love for detail and hidden jokes many artists put into their pictures.
Students can also become art collectors in their own galleries and share these with their friends or their teacher. This could be a great class project, collecting the main masterpieces of the Italian renaissance.
This could be a great class project, collecting the main masterpieces of the Italian renaissance.Tweet
You can browse by collection, artist, artwork and even visit museums and galleries in Google Street View mode.
2. Smart History
If you want to add a narrative to the experience, you should visit Smart History. Started by Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker in 2005 the project is meant to be a multi-media web-book designed as a dynamic enhancement (or even substitute) for the traditional art history textbook. Dr. Harris and Dr. Zucker joined Khan Academy a year ago.
Today the site features 429 videos and 214 essays and is a great source for background knowledge about art pieces and periods. It reminds me of the 1000 Meisterwerke series I mentioned earlier in this post.
Two weeks ago the Metropolitan Museum of Art launched MetPublications, a free online resource that features all of the print and online publications of the museum, covering art, art history, archaeology, conservation, and collecting from 1964 to today.
The site launched with over 650 publications that can be viewed online or downloaded in pdf-format. The aim is is to offer nearly all of the publications including books, bulletins and journals that were published since its founding in 1870.
Do you know other spectacular resources for art teachers? How do you make your art class more fun and engaging? Share your tips and tricks in the comments below!