One of my goals as an art teacher and museum educator is to get people comfortable with going to art museums. To a lot of people, art museums are scary and unwelcoming. They feel like they don’t fit in, and they don’t like the guards staring at them. People often feel they have to be a certain way or act or dress a certain way to fit in.
Of course, we all know that those people are wrong, but they just don’t know it yet! That is where we come in. 🙂
The below activity is how I facilitate this discussion with my students. I have done the below lesson with both high school and college students with great results. Actually, I think I may have done it with middle school too, but I don’t remember how it went! At the bottom of this post, you can download printable instruction sheets for all of the activities and assignments described in this post.
Art Museum Personification Lesson
Give the students the following prompt. You can do it with a writing assignment (free printable worksheet below!), or you can just put the prompt on the slide and ask students to share their ideas as a group. I prefer the writing assignment, because for some students (like me), a creative thinking exercise like this needs a little quiet, focused time to brew before coming up with something good.
Prompt: If an art museum were a person, what would that person be like? Imagine that an art museum (not a specific museum or a person visiting a museum, just your idea of art museums) turned into a person. Think about the following questions, then write an essay about your ideas.
Questions to consider: Is it male or female? What does he or she look like? What is his or her job? What is his or her personality? Nice, mean, friendly, snobby, funny, serious, etc.? What does he or she drive? What is his or her house like? How do others interact with him or her? Does he or she have a lot of friends? Why or why not? What might his or her name be?
(Scroll the to bottom of this post to download a free printable worksheet for this activity!)
After giving the students some time to think about this, open it up for discussion. Have students share their Museum person. They can read their paper aloud or summarize.
After everyone shares who wants to, ask the class to share their thoughts about what assumptions and preconceptions the class had about art museums. Share your observations as well. Were the class opinions generally negative or positive?
After discussing the results for a while, tell the students about museums and how they are welcoming, have awesome programs, and all that jazz.
Art Museum Visit Assignment
For my college classes, I then follow it up with an assignment to visit an art museum and write a paper about it. Below, you can download my assignment sheet and rubric that I pass out to my students in case you want it. I also usually include a sheet listing all of the museums in the area with their hours, prices, websites, and such.
My rubric is a bit over the top, but it always made grading much faster. 🙂
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