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Exhibition Critique (4th–8th Grade)
Paul Cézanne, Mont Sainte-Victoire, ca. 1890. Oil on canvas. 25 5/8 x36 ¼ inches. © RMN (Musée d’Orsay)
In this lesson students research the exhibition through the museum's marketing and educational materials as well as current media reviews. Students learn about museum careers and analyze the exhibition design in preparation for writing a review of the exhibition.
- demonstrate an understanding of Post-Impressionism as an art movement by describing Post-Impressionist paintings;
- discuss museum careers and the elements of an exhibition;
- research the current exhibition through media and marketing materials; and
- write an expository composition in the form of a review of the Post-Impressionist exhibit they attended.
A learning packet that includes images from the Post-Impressionism exhibition, artist biographies, reviews of the exhibition, and quotes from artists or critics about Post-Impressionist artwork and exhibitions (see Resources).
Visual journals for note-taking and sketching
Painting, brush, canvas, oil paint, watercolor, pastel, texture, shape, color, genre (landscape, portrait, still life)
Before the Visit:
- Read promotional materials from the de Young about the Post-Impressionism exhibit from the museum website and teacher resources. Students can research reviews and notices in local newspapers online about the Post-Impressionism exhibit to share in class.
- Discuss the various career opportunities inside the museum environment by reading descriptions about the work of curators, archivists, and conservators and the decisions they make at the time they design exhibits. Visit the US Department of Labor website for museum job descriptions.
- In their visual journals, students can write down two or three things they look forward to seeing or expect to see during their visit to the exhibit. These might be specific works of art, works by a particular painter, or details of the exhibit layout and design.
During the Visit:
Students will take notes on the Post-Impressionism exhibition in their visual journals. Questions in their visual journals will direct their attention to the following elements:
- Design and layout of the exhibition
- The informational materials available in the museum and the exhibition
- The painters shown in the exhibition
- Rules for behavior inside the museum and exhibition galleries
- Materials on sale at the museum store
Checklist for the Post-Impressionism Museum Visit
These questions can be copied on to address labels and affixed, one to a page, in students' visual journals.
Brochures and other informational materials
- What type of information do they have?
- How much information do they give you?
- Why do you think the museum chose this information?
- What more would you like to know?
Design of the exhibition entrance
- What images do you see as you enter?
- How do they make you feel?
- Do these images add any additional information? If so, what can you learn from the images?
Wall labels and expanded descriptions
- What information do they contain?
- How easy are they to read?
- What audience do you think the curator is writing for?
- If you wrote the labels would you focus on another detail in the work? If so, what would you write about?
General feel of the rooms
- What are the colors on the walls? How big are the rooms?
- How do they make you feel?
- How easy is it to go fro one room to another?
- Are there many benches? Where are they placed?
Artists shown in the exhibition
- About how many pieces are shown per artist?
- How are the paintings framed?
- Who were the most interesting artists to you and why?
Rules for behavior inside the exhibition
- What is allowed?
- What is not allowed?
- Why are these rules in place?
Materials on sale at the museum store related to the Post-Impressionism exhibition
- Books on the exhibit
- Children's books
- Related books
- T-shirts, totes
After the Visit:
Students will (re-)read one review of the Post-Impressionism exhibition, or another art review, as a model or mentor text for their own review.
Discuss the elements of a review with the class. The review of the de Young's Post-Impressionism exhibition should include observations about the design and layout of the exhibition, descriptions of one or two artists of interest to them, and a personal reflection on the impact of the exhibition on them as viewers.
Online reviews and information about the Post-Impressionism exhibition:
Online sources for short biographies:
- Biography.com is a good source for shorter biographies.
- Olga's Gallery, www.abcgallery.com, is a good source for detailed biographical data accompanied by pictures of artists’ work.
- An article about the Post-Impressionist period and several prominent painters: robinurton.com/history/postimpressionism.htm
Online sources for information about careers within museums:
Language Arts Standards
4th grade: RC 2.2, WS 1.1, 1.2
5th grade: RC 2.3, WS 1.2, WA 2.4
6th grade: RC 2.1, 2.3, WS 1.2, 1.3, WA 2.5
7th grade: RC 2.1, 2.2, WS 1.1, 1.2, WA 2.4
8th grade: RC 2.6, WS 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, WA 2.4
Visual Arts Standards
4th grade: 1.5, 3.1, 4.3, 4.5, 5.4
5th grade: 1.2, 1.3, 3.1, 4.1, 5.3
6th grade: 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 3.1, 4.1, 5.5
7th grade: 1.1, 4.2, 4.3, 5.4
8th grade: 1.1, 3.1, 4.3, 4.5