Museum Paper

You can choose any art work to discuss in depth from the permanent collections accessible through the website, or “attend” a virtual exhibition as presented online at your favorite museum.

A. For the paper, you will need to choose three art works from each of the two museums. Provide the name and a very detailed description of each work of art. Discuss why you selected the work before you begin to explain its content and meaning. Make sure to embed those images into the last page of your paper.

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B. You will also spend some time discussing the two museums, in general. What are your impressions of the collections? How well does the website represent the museum? Is it easy to navigate? Based on your extensive review of the website, would you like to visit the museum in person?

You must write at least eight pages of text, not counting the images.

Use the guide below to help shape the content of your museum paper.

Follow MLA format. Embed the images on the last page of your paper before you submit to Turnitin.

The following are some suggestions for how to talk about art.

There are three main considerations when writing about art:

Subject Matter: content
Form: what does it look like
Socio-historical context: What is the cultural context in which it was first produced?

Each of these affect the meaning or content you take away from a piece. In your analysis you might choose a single design element of the piece that illuminates your experience of it (i.e.: the scale of the piece, effect of gaze of the artist or viewer, the brushstrokes).

When analyzing art, consider the following questions. After you answer each one, remember to further ask yourself:

1.Why the artist might have made that choice, and

2.How does it affect the viewer’s reaction to, or relationship with, the piece?

These are some general questions. You may want to consider some of them, but it is not necessary to answer all of them. These are just some helpful questions to consider in order to help you begin writing about your selected art works:

What is the title?
Why was it made? What is its purpose?
If it’s a portrait – does it portray an individual or a social type? What aspect of the sitter’s personality is expressed?
If there is a figure, what is its gaze as it relates to the gaze of the artist or viewer?
What is the relationship between the parts?
What is the medium, color, scale?
What techniques did the artist use?
Where is it located?
Are there any connections with earlier art history – or history in general?
Is there any symbolism?
What is the artist’s philosophy?
Does the piece appear as it was originally constructed?
What is the size?
Where is the main subject in relation to the foreground, background and middle ground?

Drawing and Painting:

If it is a still life, what does the artist focus on, technique, composition?
In a landscape, is there any human interaction with the land? Whose view of the natural world might the artist have represented?


Is there a pose? What does the pose suggest?
What does the clothing suggest? Is it heavy or light?
Is the piece geometric? Irregular? In silhouette?
If you are looking at a bust, note the truncation?
Why would the sculptor chose to stop there? Is there a base?
Is the sculpture carved or molded? What is its texture? Does it reflect the medium or the facture (the process of working on the medium)?


Who was the photographer, an individual or a firm?
What is the overall focus?
What type of development process was used; what kind of paper?
On what material is the photograph printed?
Has it been tinted, retouched or cropped?
Was natural or artificial light used?
What is the range of light and dark?
What did the photographer chose for exposure time? Are there blurs or motions which indicate the passage of time?

Video Art: What is the visual impact? (Consider the work as you would a sculpture.)

Is there sound?
What is the context? (Of the video, of the piece as a whole.)
Are there any political implications?


How is the structural system of a building/monument suited to its purpose?
What is the interior hierarchy of spaces? Do they flow, connect well to the exterior?
What kind of statement does the building make about the thing it will house? (If it is a bank, what does it say about money? If it is a library, what does it say about knowledge?)
How do you approach the building and enter it?
Are there blueprints of the work? Do they change your impression of the building?

The information in this handout is excerpted from: A Short Guide to Writing about Art (8th ed.), by Sylvan Barnet

The Museums I’d like to choose is Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam) and any other from the following list.

Local Museums: Just look up their websites

Annenberg Space for Photography (LA)

Norton Simon Museum (Pasadena)

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Mid-Wilshire)

Broad Art Museum (LA)

Museum of Contemporary Art (LA)

Hammer Museum (UCLA)

Museum of Latin American Art (Long Beach)

Huntington Library, Gardens and Art Galleries (San Marino)

Getty Center (Santa Monica)

Getty Villa (Malibu)

Pacific Asia Museum/USC (Pasadena)

UCR/California Museum of Photography (Riverside)

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