Posted by: history591seventeen | June 8, 2010

Metropolitan Museum of Art

A lovely display of chairs

The tour of the American and Americana Collections at the Metropolitan Museum of Art was delightful.  Our guide explained the different period rooms we saw and explained how they came to the museum. 

Young George Washington

We also saw some beautiful paintings of George Washington and a very cool painting of John Brown that happens to be one I have previously used in my classroom.  Usually John Brown is portrayed as an insane abolitionist, yet this painting displays a grandfatherly man calmly saying goodbye to an African American woman and child, which of course demonstrated a very different view of John Brown and that is how I currently use two different illustrations; after students describe each painting, we compare them as a group and discuss why they are different.  Then I have my students write down which painting they think shows the real John Brow and why they feel that way, and again we discuss their findings. 

While we were looking at George Washington, I also found some Abraham Lincoln sculptures that were very cool, and while I enjoyed the guide’s information about the things she was sharing with us, I almost enjoyed my discovers more; yet it would have been nice to know their backgrounds as well. 

 I think that is what I would like to take back to my classroom.  When showing students art, say in books, magazines or in museums, it is necessary to give them some background on some of what they are viewing, yet it is more important to allow them the chance of discovering their favorite pieces and give them the resources to find out the background themselves.  Then the students could bring this back to the classroom, whereas each student could present their art and background and become the expert on that piece for the moment.  I think that would be a great way to develop buy-in of the students.

After this day of touring, my friends and I made it to the Bowling Green, which was probably way too exciting for me.  I remember writing about the King George statue being pulled down; some of you know the DBQ I am referring to.  After doing this in my master’s class I then punished my students with writing about the same DBQ.  It was a challenge to explain this illustration to my students, but I feel I have a much better understanding of this illustration and event that I will carry back to my students.  That would be why I found it sooo exciting!  I know, I’m such a history nerd, but if you are reading this, you probably are one too!


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