1: Museums

Assignment #1: EXPLORE Museums and More  [click the title link to download a copy of this assignment to take with you]

6-7 pgs double spaced. Due with logbook 1 in hardcopy in class 14 February; electronic copy of each to TA dropbox

In this assignment you explore what counts as a museum, an artwork, something feminist. You will find helpful Freeland, Ch4: “Money, markets, museums” and “How to Analyze a work of Art” at http://www.ehow.com/how_6541679_analyze-work-art.html 

1) Choose which three museums you will visit: one Smithsonian, one Private, one Mixed or Alternative from the following list: You will need to spend several hours at each site: take at least one whole day, or several days in part, to do all three. Take friends, family, partners, roommates, classmates with you! Make it as fun as possible! Get various opinions about museums, exhibitions, artworks. Make it celebratory! Metro info: http://www.wmata.com/ Shuttle UM: http://www.transportation.umd.edu/shuttle.html/ Look at museum websites for days, hours, directions, and other info.

·       African Art Museum: http://africa.si.edu/ 
·       American Art Museum: http://americanart.si.edu/ 
·       American Indian Museum: http://americanindian.si.edu/ 
·       Anacostia Community Museum: http://anacostia.si.edu/
·       Freer Gallery of Art/Sackler Gallery: http://asia.si.edu/
·       Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden: http://hirshhorn.si.edu/
·       Portrait Gallery: http://www.npg.si.edu/ 
·       Renwick Gallery: http://americanart.si.edu/renwick/ 

Private Galleries, original collection and/or educational:  
·       National Museum of Women in the Arts (students $8; 1st Sun free): http://www.nmwa.org/ 
·       Corcoran Gallery of Art (students $8): http://www.corcoran.org/ 
·       The Phillips Collection (special exhibitions students $10, otherwise $8, under 18 free): http://www.phillipscollection.org/ 

Mixed and Alternative:
·       National Gallery (public and national from original Mellon collection): http://www.nga.gov/
·       United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (federal and private): http://www.ushmm.org/ 
·       American Visionary Art Museum (Baltimore, students $9.95): http://www.avam.org/
·       The Red Line DC Project: http://redlinedc.wordpress.com/
·       Something not on this list you propose – ask Katie or TA for approval.

2) Take careful notes of the following at each venue you visit: at each one pick (at least) one exhibition to consider specifically and one artwork to analyze:
= What do you notice first about this building or site?
= Who is this place for? How can you tell?
= is there a store? What’s available there and how much do things generally cost?
= What guidance do visitors get? What do you find most useful yourself?
= How can you tell what is here? What is on permanent exhibition? What is new & current?
= Where are the women? artists, visitors, curators, collectors: how can you find out?
= What issues of social justice are on display and how? Which social groups are addressed?
= Is this museum “feminist”? How can you tell? What issues does asking this bring up?
= Which exhibition most catches your eye and interest? Why?
= What can you find out about the exhibition as a whole: who put it together and why? how can you tell? what information is available about this? are there brochures? are there catalogs? Take any free brochures and look through (or buy if you want) available catalogs. Are there tours, cell phone info, labels, what else? Read all wall info. Who paid for this?
= Is this exhibition “feminist”? How can you tell? What issues does asking this bring up?
= Which one artwork most interests you? Why?
= What can you find out about it? (can you answer any of the questions from the online site How to Analyze…? is that information available at the exhibition?)
= What do you notice about it? What about it matters most to you?
= Is this artwork “feminist”? How can you tell? What issues does asking this bring up?
= What was unexpected about any of this?

3) Go online and see what is available for the museums you visited, the exhibition you chose, the artwork you examined; at the museum site and elsewhere on the web.
= What social media does this museum take advantage of and how? How does it add to your analysis and understandings?
= What larger institutions, corporations, educational foundations, government entities, or publics, activisms, politics is the museum, exhibition or artwork part of?
= Do you find anything unexpected on the web?
= What did you learn from your visit that could not have been learned only looking on the web?

4) Decide which of the three museums you will analyze in the most detail. Write three pages answering the questions from your notes for this one.

5) Write one page each, doing the same for the other two venues.

6) Now you have done that, write one page in which you talk about what you learned from doing this, considering especially what this suggests to you about what counts as a feminist approach to art, for you and for others.

7) Now one more page: create a list of things that surprised you while doing this exercise, any part of it. As you examine this list, what do you learn about what you assumed before you noticed these surprises? Write down at least three of those assumptions and describe how they altered.


8) Put these bits in this order: #6 (what you learned about feminist art) is the first part, #4 is the second part, #5 is the third part, #7 is the last page.

9) Rewrite all this as a single, crafted essay, 6-7 pages long. You may include personal bits about the experiences involved, your thoughts and questions, and your companions. The last page (#7) can be just a list with discussion or can be incorporated into the essay. You may show the draft to others and get advice about how to rewrite it. You may ask someone else to do a final edit for you, catching spelling errors, grammar, typos, etc. If English is not your native language, this may be especially useful. (If it is a little longer or shorter, don’t worry about that.)

10) Be sure you do not copy things off the web without attributions. So if you use anyone else’s words be sure to cite these with footnotes. Add a bibliography that includes all the websites you visited and any catalogs, brochures or wall labels you quote or use information from, and any other materials you used. What styles do you use? Any standard one is fine: APA, MLA, Chicago are all good. To find out more Google “citation styles” and use those sites coming up for help in doing this well.

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