Museum Report

[Based on exercises in Core Concepts in Humanities DVD Rom]
Credit: Mindi Bailey

Possible points: 150 (15% of total class grade)

*Note: You MUST provide proof of your attendance in order to get credit. If you do not submit proof of attendance, you cannot earn a passing grade on this assignment. No exceptions! Proof of attendance can only be a ticket stub, a receipt showing proof of purchase, or a stamped flier. No posters, unstamped fliers, programs or photos will be accepted as proof of attendance.

Each section below is worth a certain number of points. Read the directions carefully and answer each prompt completely. Your museum report should include the following information at the top:

Date of visit: ___________________________

Arrival time at the museum: ________________

Departure time from the museum: ___________

Your report should be written in essay form in MLA format. Since your work for this project will be based entirely on your own perceptions of the art, you do not need outside sources and therefore you do not need a Works Cited page.

PART I: Best AND Worst (worth 50 points)


1) Identify the one work of art that you find to be the BEST art work in the entire museum.

* Provide the title, artist, and all other identification material provided on the plaque accompanying the material for each of these pieces.
* Describe each work using the elements of composition and principles of design.
* Explain what message you think the artist was trying to communicate and how you think s/he accomplished this task.
* Write a brief paragraph on why you like/dislike each of these particular pieces of art as well as how each made you feel.

2) Now do ALL of the above for the one work of art that you like LEAST in the entire museum.

PART II: (worth 50 points)

Directions: Address ONE AND ONLY ONE of the following topics.

Choice A: “You Name It”

Directions: Locate and list the info listed on the plaques for ALL of the untitled works you can find in the museum. Then, supply your own title for each. Describe one of them using the elements of composition and principles of design. Then, analyze and interpret how these elements and principles are used in communicating an idea and evoking a particular response. How does a title influence viewers’ perception of art? Why do you think the artist chose not to title this piece? If you choose this option, you should write a short essay on untitled works of art and the meaning behind this. Discuss the influence of titles on the way we interpret content.

Choice B: Portraits

Using various techniques, artists usually try to express something beyond the obvious as a means of capturing perceived characteristics of the subject that a photograph may not.

Some examples of this:

Vincent van Gogh’s self-portraits reveal the artist’s troubled spirit through the use of strong, heavy linear treatment and intense hues. Late in his life, he painted himself with a bandage over his partially severed ear, probably indicating that he had come to grips with his mental illness and was able to deal with it openly.

Rembrandt’s serene self-portraits seem to glow against dark backgrounds as if to express hope in an otherwise dark, dismal world. Both artists painted their own image over a broad period of their working lives, leaving us with a kind of autobiographical record.

Frida Kahlo (1907–1954) also developed an autobiographical record with self-portraits, leading to a worldwide following for her distinctive body of work. Her paintings incorporate symbolic images rooted in her physical and spiritual suffering. Her provocative style of portraiture can be seen in her “Self- Portrait with Cropped Hair.” The painting shows a defiant Frida holding a pair of scissors and surrounded by her own shorn hair, despite the admonitions of her husband, artist Diego Rivera (1886–1957) who thought her long hair was appealing. At the top of the painting she wrote the melody and lyrics of a popular song: “Look, if I used to love you, it was because of your hair, Now that you’re bald, I don’t love you anymore.”

Directions: Search for portraits of various styles, time periods, cultures, and art forms. Jot down a few notes about the wide range of style and techniques, ranging from the most realistic to abstract representation. Look beyond the subject and think about the content, or meaning, of the work. Discuss the style and techniques utilized by at least three different portrait artists on display at the museum. At least one of these should be a self-portrait. What can you tell about each of the subjects of the portraits and how are these insights articulated visually by the artist? What do you know about the context of the person’s life and how can you tell? (For example, a pauper will be portrayed quite differently from an aristocrat, and this difference can be surmised by the setting, pose, and costume as well as the brushstrokes, lighting, and gestures.) Finally, I would like for you to speculate on which artist seen at the museum you would choose to create your own portrait. Why would this artist or artistic style suit you best? How would you want to be portrayed? (Formal or informal? What would you wear? How would you pose? What setting would you choose? etc.)

Choice C: “Art and Religion”

Religious subjects have been used as inspiration in all kinds of art from all cultures—in some cases for artistic expression alone and in others to enhance the ceremony of worship. Whether by inspiration or outright patronage from the church, artists have produced religious works in all forms of the visual arts. Various depictions of Christ on the cross and The Madonna and Christ Child Enthroned, for example, reveal qualities and features which make each work unique among many on the same subject.

Directions: Search for and list at least five works with religious themes from various religions and give the documentary info for each (what’s included on the card). Then, select the one that you believe communicates the most intense spirituality and write a short essay about how the artist has engendered this response. If it is a piece from Christianity, for example, you’ll need to express the tenets and beliefs of that religion that are touched on in the piece. Remember that color is symbolic as are many of the things included in the work of art. Also keep in mind that in tribal religions, art has a ritualistic or fetish role to play in specific ceremonies. Think about the power of image and the relationship between art and religion in various cultures and time periods. Be sure to address exactly how the beliefs and rituals of religion are expressed in the work as well as how the artist made you feel what you experienced when viewing this work of art.

PART III: “Scavenger Hunt” (worth 50 points)

Directions: Give the title, artist, medium, and date or origin of your selections for FIVE of the following ten choices. Then elaborate as prompted in the parentheses.

Find a piece of art that:

1) you don’t consider to be art at all (briefly explain why)
2) made you think of your childhood (what memory was sparked?)
3) reminded you of someone or something (who or what did it remind you of?)
4) made you smile (why?)
5) grossed you out (in what way?)
6) gave you a sense of excitement (why?)
7) mirrors your own spirituality or lack of it (explain)
8) you would like to own (why?)
9) looks like a child painted it (what qualities does child art have that other art doesn’t? Picasso said that when he as 12 he could paint like the masters, but it took him his whole life to learn to see as a child. What do you think he meant?)
10) is the most realistic or representational (How can you tell it isn’t a photograph? Do you see brushstrokes?)

BONUS: (worth 15 points)—You may choose ONE AND ONLY ONE of the following options.

Bonus Option 1: Power Play

Directions: Choose 5 of the following ten categories and identify one art work for each of the five you’ve selected that you consider to be the best representations of the category of power and give the title, date, artist or origin of each as well as a brief explanation of how you see the particular culture depicted.


Bonus Option 2: Time Capsule

Directions: Suppose that you have been chosen to select works of art from the museum to be buried in a time capsule. You must choose 5 works of art that you think best depict 5 different cultures. These should be emblematic enough that archaeologists and anthropologists millennia hence will be able to accurately interpret the culture by examining these art pieces or artifacts. Give the title, origin, and/or date of the art work and a brief description of what it reveals about the culture/time period it comes from.

Bonus Option 3: Museums as Artworks

During your visit to the museum, take special notice of its design. The architect planned the structure to serve a specific purpose that is meant to have an impact on museum visitors. (Note that the Dallas Museum of Art is arranged chronologically, beginning with earliest cultures and art objects located on the top floor to contemporary art on the first floor.)

Directions: Write a paragraph explaining how this particular museum’s design affects your experience with its artwork.