Life Imitates Art: A Day at the Museum

7 min read

| By Nicole Albrecht |

A K12 Field Trip to the Detroit Institute of Art

For Gale’s inside K12 educational consultant team, life inside a cubicle is standard. Each day revolves around making phone calls to customers and communicating through email. It has its perks from finding free food left over from another office party to being able to connect face-to-face with other team members who support our customers.  Even though our team isn’t physically in a school day in and day out, it is important for us to find real-world ways to connect with content. To help the team find new and inspiring ways to connect content to school curriculum, Nicole Albrecht, Gale’s GVRL Sales Specialist, planned a field trip to the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA).

The mission: connect Gale’s digital connect to the AP Art History framework. AP Art History was the chosen curriculum to follow due to the extensiveness of its units and the challenging art that students would study that were from different time periods and cultures.

Nicole’s main objective, besides the connection to the AP Art History framework, was finding a way for the sales team to understand how teachers would use Gale’s digital content for a field trip that most teachers would take their students on. The Detroit Institute of Arts was the perfect pilot trip to launch which will hopefully be a series of field trips to connect content to curriculum.

Once inside the DIA, the sales team partnered up to explore the following areas: Ancient Mediterranean, Early Europe and Colonial America, Indigenous Americas, Africa, and Asia. The teams were given a set of worksheets that detailed how to complete their task and Nicole says that she viewed the sales team as her students, “It makes me feel like a teacher again and since I don’t have students of my own, I think of my colleagues, respectfully, as my students when I need inspiration for different ways that our digital content can be used much like a teacher and their students would”.

Each set of partners explored their set area and they were required to choose two pieces of art and collect information such as: name of the artist, title of the piece, material used for creation, description, what was happening in the artist’s world when they created this, draw their own interpretation of the art and finally they had to find a GVRL title that connected to either the artist or the actual piece of art. The team downloaded an app to their mobile phones so they could access GVRL to search for titles. After spending several hours roaming the exhibits, the team met to turn in worksheets, discuss what they found and share their ideas. What came of this experience was a better understanding of the AP Art history framework, a new appreciation for the wonderful works of art at the DIA and the opportunity to identify a great collection of Gale Virtual Reference Library titles to support social studies and art history teachers.

Kevin Santa recreates a statue of young Roman

For Ancient Greece and Rome, Kevin Santa and Mike Smith explored statues and sculptors of the emperors as well as pottery. They were entertained by the strange stories of Roman emperors such a Nero, who was known for his violence and luxurious taste and was rumored to have set Rome on fire in 64 CE. More about this famous emperor can be found in, The Ancient World: Extraordinary People in Extraordinary Societies by Salem Press and Voices of Ancient Greece & Rome: Contemporary Accounts of Daily Life by ABC-CLIO.

Bret Cocke drew a mask circa 1800 by the Haisla

Bret Cocke and Nicole Albrecht, teamed up to conquer the large exhibit for Indigenous America. For Bret Cocke, who is K12’s newest member covering Canada, this was the perfect area for him to explore. Bret and Nicole observed tribal masks, hunting weapons and totem pole decorations. They found an interesting display of masks that were finely painted and carefully decorated by different cultures of the Arctic and Northwest Coast. Many of these tribes used actual human hair and animal bones to create their pieces. The life and customs of these people can be found in the series by Britannica Educational Publishing, Native American Tribes and Gale’s UXL Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes.

Janel Schnur drew a mask used by the Kuba people of Africa.

Beth Chumley and Janel Schnur toured the African exhibit and were also fascinated by the tribal masks on display there. They shared that the masks were intense and they also found that some tribes had masks that certain members would wear; for example, one of the masks was meant for only law enforcement to wear. More on these masks and African culture can be found in Hidden Religion: the Greatest Mysterious and Symbols of the World’s Religious Beliefs and African Kingdoms: An Encyclopedia of Empires and Civilizations.

Andrea Drouillard and Lindsay Smith were excited to explore the Asia exhibit, but unfortunately, it was closed due to construction, so the two found inspiration elsewhere in the Fashionable Living area that showcased various pieces of sculptures and decorative art like porcelain bowls, fine china and more. Lindsay and Andrea were captivated by the Othello and Desdemona Dagger which depicted Othello and his lover, Desdemona on top of a large silver dagger which was taken from Shakespeare’s famous play, Othello.

Lindsay Smith drew the Othello and Desdemona Dagger circa 1840

The play and more works of William Shakespeare can be found in Gale’s comprehensive series, Shakespeare for Students: Critical Interpretations of Shakespeare’s Plays and Poetry. The last duo to explore was Denise Ohngren and Gail Bandish for the Early Europe and Colonial Americas exhibits. Gail and Denise had a blast seeking out the strange and odd portraits that depicted men and women of those times. They took pictures and explored the areas and were moved by the more famous portraits that they could see up close for the first time like paintings of The Last Supper and Paul Revere’s Hallmark. More on the historical context of this painting can be found in Painters of the Renaissance by Britannica Educational Publishing and those seeking information about colonial America should check out ReferencePoint Press’, Colonial America.

Denise Ohngren recreates, The Last Supper by Benjamin West.

Besides exploring the DIA, building teamwork skills, and finding new artwork to speak to, the K12 team had a new appreciation for how educators create field trips and connect great content to it for students. GVRL is the best place for teachers to start when they want to build a digital library that students can access 24/7 from anywhere with an internet connection and that they can use for more than just in-class assignments and research. Learn more about Gale eBooks on GVRL >>

Banner Image left to right top: Kevin Santa, Bret Cocke, Beth Chumley, Janel Schnur, Michael Smith, Lindsay Smith
Pictured left to right bottom: Andrea Drouillard, Gail Bandish, Denise Ohngren & Nicole AlbrechtAir Jordan 1

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