I went to the Tretyakov gallery in Moscow. It was truly amazing. I wish I had been educated enough to fully appreciate the art. I sat in front of the Matisse. Henri Matisse was easily one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. I dismissed the work in front of me. It looked simple, childlike. How could this be in a museum? Was this art?
“I think I could make this myself.” The room stopped. All the people admiring Matisse, heads tilted in deep contemplation, they were looking at me. My friend Svetlana turned, horror on her face.
“Well,” she said, “Maybe you’re not considering the training he had or some of his other works.” I was bored. I moved on. There were plenty polished pictures I understood. I passed them each in turn.
I had the good fortune to study an exhibit of Russian Orthodox icons with a professor of this style of art. Again, I was neither mature nor educated enough to appreciate a thing he said about the shades of blue and the distance of the halos from the faces of the Madonna and Child. I wasn’t equipped to care about the ratios or the proportion in the painting. I’m only grateful I remember the words. I can ponder them now that I have more maturity. If only I could have appreciated these things then. If only I’d learned them in school. I remember distinctly being bored by the professor’s lengthy discussion. I was a little mystified that there were no barricades separating the public from the art. I asked the question.
“Professor, how does the museum preserve the art?” I asked. “What do they do about vandalism?” Once again, the room stopped to look at the person who dared ask such a thing. There is, I discovered, such a thing as a stupid question.
“Nobody vandalizes art in this country.” He veiled his disdain for the question loosely, if at all. “It’s not part of our culture. No one would do such things.”
Such is life, I suppose. We’re not always ready to receive the lessons we learn at the time we receive them. Later, they sink in. What if I’d learned something more about art in school? Would I have been ready to take advantage of one of the world’s greatest museums? Art must be taught to students. It’s not only oils, canvas, and sculpture. It’s the heart and soul of man. Of culture. Of history. It ties together the math, science, and world events. It’s Renaissance and revolution.
This week’s Learnist feature highlights digital field trips, travel writer Tyler Wilcox and others, as they take us to some of the best museums in the world. There’s no longer an excuse for leaving art out of curricula. It’s right here, and many of these museums boast outstanding virtual exhibits. You no longer have to go to the museum. Instead, it comes to you.
As always, please consider making some boards of your own or adding to some of these boards. I’d love to feature your boards and share them with teachers across the nation. My goal is to bring teachers together, collecting the best of the best lessons and teaching them as a united force. I’ll be doing a feature on using Learnist for lesson planning soon. If you have any boards on this topic to contribute, please connect with me @runningdmc. I’m looking forward to collaborating.
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Regular museums are places for looking. Children’s museums are places for touching. Play, innovation, modeling, and design engage the five senses at these, the nations top, children’s museums.