The Electronic Field Trip to the Speed Art Museum is a one-hour tour of the J.B. Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky's oldest and largest art museum. The museum, which was extensively renovated in 1999, features collections spanning 6,000 years and including classical antiquities, Native American and African art, European painting and sculpture, art of the 20th century, and a Kentucky collection.
Hosted by KET Distance Learning's Humanities teacher, Liz Jewell, this field trip explores the unusual and multi-faceted world of an art museum. Students learn what is involved in mounting a major exhibition as they follow the installation of a show of sculpture by Auguste Rodin. They also meet a variety of people on the museum staff, gaining an understanding of the special skillsfrom design to engineeringneeded to operate a regional art museum. Staff curators share how and why they organize exhibitions and let us in on several surprising discoveries recently made about pieces in the collection. This behind-the-scenes look at the daily operations of an art museum lets students see an array of art and objects in the museum's storage areas, which are off limits to most visitors.
This field trip dispels the stereotype that art museums are stuffy by showing them to be exciting, dynamic places where we all can experience art and learn about other people ... and ourselves.
This outline of the field trip provides you with information that will help you use the program effectively with your students.
Opening and introduction (2 minutes, 5 seconds)
Favorite: Funeral of a Mummy
Installing and de-installing an exhibit (10 minutes, 18 seconds)
Unloading the Rodin sculptures
Interview with preparator
Ansel Adams condition report
Interview with the assistant registrar
Favorite: Sally Ward
Interview with the registrar
Preparing for and installing art
Favorite: Reclining Figure
How exhibits are organized (9 minutes)
Interview with the curator in the 18th-century gallery
Discovery in the Cranach painting
Favorite: Yoruba doors
How we learn about art (7 minutes, 40 seconds)
What is a docent?
Talking about art
Tour of the Learning Center
Interview with the education director
A behind-the-scenes look at collections storage (19 minutes, 30 seconds)
Favorite: Mademoiselle Pogany
Controlling the storage environment
Interview with the facilities manager
What to do about damaged art works
Interviews with the preparators, conservator, registrar
Favorite: Sioux woman's dress
Opening of the Rodin show (2 minutes, 20 seconds)
Rodin Favorite: Call to Arms
Close (1 minute)
Academic and Assessment Connections
The Electronic Field Trip to the Speed Art Museum can be used to address specific visual arts goals in Kentucky's Core Content for Arts and Humanities Assessment. At the 8th-grade level, students are asked to respond to visual art and to describe and compare the characteristics and purposes of works of art representing various cultures, historical periods, and artists. At the 11th-grade level, students are asked to analyze, compare, contrast, and interpret the cultural and historical context of artworks using visual art terminology.
Specific arts and humanities Academic Expectations this program targets:
- Students analyze their own and others' artistic products and performances using accepted standards (2.23).
- Students have knowledge of major works of art, music, and literature and appreciate creativity and the contributions of the arts and humanities (2.24).
- In the products they make and the performances they present, students understand how time, place, and society influence the arts and humanities ... (2.25).
- Through the arts and humanities, students recognize that although people are different, they share some common experiences and attitudes (2.26).
This field trip can also be used in the social studies curriculum to address these academic expectations:
- Students observe, analyze, and interpret human behaviors, social groupings, and institutions to better understand people and the relationship among individuals and among groups (2.16).
- Students understand, analyze, and interpret historical events, conditions, trends, and issues to develop historical perspective (2.20).
What Is a Museum?
A museum is a building in which collections of objects are exhibited. In addition, an art museum is a cultural institution that collects and preserves objects and educates the public about the objects it holds in trust.
Museums exist in every conceivable fieldfrom art to history to automobilesbut most are based on collections of objects. They usually display groups of objects that are related in some way. With their rich variety of paintings, sculptures, and objects, art museums such as the Speed offer visitors unique places to experience the creativity of artists and a chance to view the world through others' eyes, times, and cultures.
Collecting is a natural human instinct, and collections can consist of anything a person finds appealing, interesting, valuable, or beautiful. Many museums such as the Speed began with the gift of one person's collection. Collectors often give museums their objects so the collections will be both preserved and shared with the public. The way objects are categorized or grouped helps us understand their importance or relevance. Art museum objects and collections can be organized chronologically, thematically, stylistically, or geographically.
Auguste Rodin is regarded as one of the foremost sculptors of the 19th and early 20th centuries. He was born in Paris in 1840. After attending the Ecole Imperiale de Dessin, a free school for art and design, he studied on his own at the Louvre and at a tapestry manufactory. For many years he earned his living working for other sculptors. In 1875, he traveled to Italy, where he studied the work of Renaissance sculptors Donatello and Michelangelo. Their work greatly influenced his artistic style.
In 1900, Rodin had achieved such acclaim as to have an entire pavilion devoted to his work at the Paris World Exhibition. He is perhaps best known for his sculptures The Thinker and The Kiss. Rodin's work reveals his sensitivity to the human form and condition. He continued to work until his death in 1917.
The bronze sculptures exhibited at the Speed Art Museum and featured in KET's field trip were cast from the original works using the lost-wax casting process. For a detailed explanation of that process as well as more information about Rodin and images of his work, look at the web site of the exhibition's sponsor, the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation.
A packet of classroom materials containing the following documents can be downloaded in Word '97 .doc format.
- Program Outline
- Academic and Assessment Connections
- What Is a Museum?
- Map of the Speed Art Museum
- Auguste Rodin
- Selected Bibliography
- Museum Education Web Sites and Other Resources
- Evaluation (Please fill out and return!)
- Student Activities Packet
- Observing/Describing: A Process for Looking at Art
- Aesthetic Experience
- Perspectives on Art
- Art Museum Careers
These educational materials were developed by the Education Department of the Speed Art Museum.
Special thanks go to
Cynthia Moreno, Speed Museum Education Director
Becky Bingman, Kentucky Collaborative for Teaching and Learning
Liz Jewell, KET Humanities teacher and program host
Speed Art Museum staff