Thematic Approaches to the Collections

These guides provide thematic approaches to teaching with collections. Faculty will find discussion prompts — which guide students in careful analysis — and a curated list of art or archival works under each theme.

Facial Expressions
Perceiving Light and Color
Rewriting History
Symbols of Power
Environment and the Anthropocene
Fear and Violence
Race and identity
Body in Health and illness
Gendered bodies

Analyzing Types of Objects

These guides outline questions faculty may use to encourage their students in close and careful observation and study.

Formal Analysis Questions, brief version
Looking at Painting
Looking at Photography
Looking at Sculpture
Exploring Book History Provenance

Example Course Assignments

ENG 350: Literature of the American Renaissance, 1820-1860
HIS 401 / ART 491: Artifacts, Images, and History: The American Southwest
HIS 374: History of the American West

Models from Other Institutions

Many institutions and organizations provide general pedagogical guidance for teaching with primary sources and art; below please find a curated list of such guidance.

Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Teaching at the Allen Memorial Art Museum

Harvard Magazine, Talking about Teaching, Part III: Using the University’s Collections

The Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Resources for teaching with art

Society of American Archivists, Guidelines for Primary Source Literacy

The Whitney Museum of American Art, Teaching Tips

Brooklyn Historical Society, Teach Archives