Back to School: Year 4

Can you believe that it has been four years since the first post on this blog?

That first post was just a paragraph in which I introduced myself and the blog, succinctly stating my goals:

Part of my job here at OSU is to develop teaching and learning opportunities that connect students with the art collection.  This blog is designed to share some student projects, past and present, and to introduce visitors to some of the works in our collection through student writing.

Like life itself, my job keeps changing, and these days this blog is no longer officially affiliated with the OSU Museum of Art. But as an art history professor at OSU, my goals remain the same: to develop teaching and learning opportunities for my students using the collection, and to share that collection with the general public through the blog.

What I didn’t fully realize four years ago is that the blog would have other benefits: for myself, for other faculty and the museum staff, for students, and for the general public. Obviously, by creating a public resource, I hoped to give my students’ work a wider audience—but I hadn’t anticipated the extent to which it would impact them in other ways. Such as:

  • helping them develop their public writing skills
  • introducing them to some of the artists about whom they wrote
  • documenting research processes and curatorial activity

Faculty and staff, meanwhile, have used the blog to:

  • Augment coursework and enhance their students’ experience
  • Document the collection and supplement exhibition didactics
  • Connect with artists, donors, and alumni

As we saw last week, the general public makes use of the blog—sometimes via content provided at the Museum of Art, and often through Google searches—which are only sometimes easy to connect to our content! Can you guess which posts searchers were pointed to when they used these queries?

  • “exploded interior”
  • “famous drypoint etching artists”
  • “painting of ancient chinese man”
  • “art and medical students”
  • “hippie women art”
  • “unusual sculpture material”
  • “american visionary art museum interior”

Classes start up again this week, and I’ve spent the first part of August preparing to bring my History of American Art students to use the study center at the Museum of Art for the first time. Last semester, “Sharing a Journey” was on the walls and I taught from the collection pieces that were in the show—but now that there are traveling exhibitions in the galleries, we need the study room to access the permanent collection.

There’s one major advantage of the study center: with some forethought, I can show my students a carefully curated group of objects that relate precisely to what they are studying. The challenge for me? Narrowing down our 900-odd works of American art to the 30-40 we have time to look at in two class periods!

Have you thought about using the collection? The study center makes it available to everyone by appointment, and it’s a great resource. Plus, the museum recently hired an education curator, Carrie Kim, whose programming is already bringing the museum’s collections and exhibitions to wider audiences.

About osucurator

Louise Siddons is Associate Professor of Art History at Oklahoma State University and founding curator of the Oklahoma State University Museum of Art. She maintains this blog as a record of her students' work with the Museum's permanent collection as well as more generally with topics related to museum studies.
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