Museum Paper

For the Museum Paper you must choose a work of art from the National Gallery of Art or a building located in the Washington, D.C. area that you can see in person. You can choose any work of art from the museum’s collection for your project, provided the artwork was created between the years 1400 – the present. This time span corresponds to the art that was covered in the class.

You will write your paper on an original work of art that you view in person. Your observations should be illuminated by the lectures, assignments and readings. It is important to choose something that you can discuss without extensive research. You are welcome to conduct further research (e.g. through the Internet, books, etc.), but it is not required. If you do use outside sources, they must be properly credited. Please use MLA format. If you are unsure about how to cite your sources, refer to:

A typical paper will spend the first two pages (or more) describing the art work in detail using terms learned in class (e.g. sculpture in the round, complementary colors, iconography, etc.) and providing a brief background about the artist (but not more than a few paragraphs). You should address how the form and content interact. Be aware of how the artist’s choice of medium enhances or detracts from the narrative of the artwork. Is the artist communicating a specific message to the viewer? Remember the form includes such factors as the sizes, shapes and placement of the artwork’s component parts. The content includes the narrative or story that is conveyed in the artwork.

In the rest of the paper you will compare/contrast the object to one artwork that I discussed in the lectures. You should talk about how the works are similar and/or different. The best comparisons have at least two commonalities. Avoid comparisons with artworks that have very little in common. If you decide to do outside research you may want to talk about the work’s significance (e.g. how it may be a political statement or how it demonstrates an innovative style).  Remember, this comparison must be a work that was covered in the class.