During the month of July, the Portland Art Museum was fortunate to host a week-long seminar that brought 23 faculty members from across the country to examine French painting as well as object-based teaching strategies. Organized by the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and supported by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, this “Teaching European Art in Context” seminar is especially valuable for faculty members who teach art history at institutions without large campus museums or proximity to major art museums. The seminar focused on the art of storytelling in French painting and sculpture, examining objects in the Museum’s permanent collection as well as many included in the special exhibition Gods and Heroes: Masterpieces from the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris.
The seminar was led by the Museum’s own Dawson Carr, Janet and Richard Geary Curator of European Art , along with Mary Tavener Holmes, an independent scholar specializing in French art of the 17th and 18th centuries, and Kathleen Nicholson, Professor Emeritus in the Department of the History of Art and Architecture at the University of Oregon. Over the course of the week, participants enjoyed daily lectures and gallery discussions led by Carr, Holmes, and Nicholson. The group was also joined in the galleries by members of the Museum’s Education team who demonstrated a series of teaching techniques and creative, interdisciplinary ways to engage with art. Inspired by these activities and their engagement with objects in the galleries, the participants created their own in-gallery teaching experiments as the week’s culminating project. Therefore, not only did each faculty member leave with a stronger expertise in the area of French painting, but they also had a toolbox of exciting teaching strategies to bring back with them into the college classroom.
“Strengthening the teaching of art history at colleges and universities — many of which have limited faculty resources in art history — is critical,” said CIC President Richard Ekman. “The seminar has significant value for the faculty members who participate, the colleagues with whom they will share their new knowledge, and the students who enroll in their courses.”
We’re so thrilled to host this year’s seminar. Special thanks to the CIC, Kress Foundation, and all the participants who came together in Portland for this week of intellectual and pedagogical explorations. We look forward to hosting similar experiences in the future, and continuing to reach out to college and university faculty to support their use of our collections, exhibitions, and program.
Learn more about college tours and admission discounts for college students at the Portland Art Museum.