ARTH 372 7980 History of Western Art I

In order to better understand the purpose of an exhibit, it is important to experience a museum exhibition. For this stage, you will visit a special museum exhibition either physically or digitally and describe how this experience will critically inform your work on this project.

Step 1: Find a museum special exhibit that ideally relates in some way to the theme you have chosen in your proposal. Look over your local area to find a museum that you can visit. Focus on museum collections that display works of visual art that fall within the context of the class (artwork from Prehistory to 1400). Ideally, look for a museum that is displaying work from the context of your artist that you have chosen to research.

Note: The museum exhibit should be a special exhibit. Special exhibits differ from the museum’s collection as they are specially curated experiences where the curator displays a select group of artworks in order to express something. For instance: This exhibit at the National Gallery of Art focuses on the work of a the Byzantine era with the idea of explaining the relationship between the formal and spiritual. Thus the special exhibit attempts to tie the content and formal elements of the artworks to the context of place.

Step 2: Visit the Special Exhibit either physically or digitally. While it is encouraged that you visit the museum physically to fully experience the formal elements of works of art, this may not be possible in all cases. We will be producing the final exhibit in a digital format, so you will need to visit the exhibition with an eye to answering the following questions:

  • What is the theme/focus of the exhibit?
  • How does the curator introduce the theme?
  • How does the curator tell a story about this theme?
  • What comparisons are made across works of art on display and how are these comparisons made?
  • Does the curator allow the viewer to form independent conclusions or make independent comparisons?
  • How does the curator express any references or guide the viewer to other relevant material?
  • What can you take-away from this experience that you might use in how you develop your exhibit and conduct your research?
  • What do you want a viewer/reader to take away from your final product?

Step 3: Find a curatorial essay from the exhibit. Find a curatorial essay describing the intentions of the special exhibit published through the museum. Read it and compare it to the visual experience. How does the essay reflect and expand your understanding of the experience in viewing the artworks?

Step 4: Write a reflection that summarizes your experience. This summary should be between 5 and 7 paragraphs making an argument about the experience, a brief critical analysis of any curatorial essays and what conclusions you have formed through this experience.


  • Identification of the exhibit you visited with URL.
  • Identification of the curatorial essay you viewed in proper MLA format.
  • 5-7 paragraph length response to the museum exhibit in the discussion forum.
  • Any scholarly references you consulted cited properly in MLA format (if you used any additional sources)