by Howard Clemens
There are many art museums across the United States with notable collections. Yet only a portion of these museums specialize in American Art. It is true that many museums collect American art, but few focus solely on it. A student tour of Washington D.C. is greatly enriched with a visit to the Smithsonian American Art Museum. A visit to this comprehensive museum will expose students to American Art and artists.
Class preparation for a trip like this is important. Many teachers will want to incorporate blended learning exercises to pique student interest in the class trip to D.C. Prior to a visit, teachers will want to explore the rich, in-depth classroom activities available online. Visit http://americanart.si.edu/education/activities/online/index.cfm to review them all.
Teachers will love the prepared exercises. Students will learn about American art from different perspectives. There are classroom exercises that focus on different eras in American Art, evolving identities for various ethnic groups, and fun, mystery solving exercises that help students retain what they learn.
An example of an inspiring and interesting exercise is Meet me at Midnight. This imaginary adventure involves a folk art sculpture coming to life at night and mixing up the art in the museum. Students are tasked with setting things aright.
There are a plethora of ways to learn about art. One of the ways to do this is to immerse students in the stories of artists. Many of the artists featured in American Kaleidoscope emerge from working class backgrounds or specific ethnic groups and achieve greater recognition for their works through social movements, such as Chicano Rights, Black Rights or even Women’s Rights.
Selecting Del Corazón! is a way to immerse students in the experience of the Latino artist. This classroom exercise features bi-lingual interviews of artists. Plus, the interactive zoomify feature allows students to take a closer look at work by this important group of Americans.
In Cleopatra: Lost and Found, students will learn more about the intersection of art and history. The focus in this exercise is gaining a unique understanding of historical, literary and biblical figures celebrated in the art of sculpture.
For many art students, participating in classroom activities online will be stimulating and fun –but these exercises still do not compare to a real time visit to the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Downtown Washington D.C. Teachers will want to combine the online learning with a real visit to see the exhibitions.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum was renovated from 2000-2005. The Renwick Gallery is a centerpiece of the work completed and it is a stunning example of architecture. This was actually the first building in the U.S. specifically built to be an art museum. An important part of the gallery that is not to be missed is the Renwick Gallery. Located right across the street from the White House – this building houses American craft arts. The current exhibition is called Wonder. This exhibition of large-scale installations includes well-known cotemporary American artists.
Smithsonian American Art Museum continues to be a leader in art education across the United States. Since 2006, the Museum curatorial staff has launched 14 major traveling exhibitions of more than 1,000 pieces of art from its permanent collection. The Museum’s renovations left more time for curatorial staff to take a deeper look at the collection and send parts of it on tour.
There are plenty of reasons to take student groups on a trip to Washington D.C. For more information on a Student Art Tour of Washington D.C. or a general student tour of Washington D.C. that incorporates a visit to the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Request a Quote.