Lesson of the Day: ‘Now Virtual and in Video, Museum Websites Shake Off the Dust’

Lesson of the Day: ‘Now Virtual and in Video, Museum Websites Shake Off the Dust’

In this lesson, you will explore some of the world’s greatest museums and artistic treasures and consider the role of art in chaotic times. In a Going Further activity, you will respond to one artwork in depth.

Afterward, respond to the following prompts:

Read the article, then answer the following questions:

1. Jason Farago writes, “In times of adversity, we look to art to give form to chaos.” Do you agree? What is the role of art in your life? How have artistic works featured in the article helped you during these difficult times?

2. The author asks, “Should a museum aim to replicate online the exact experience of visiting in person the world’s great picture galleries and palaces?” What do you think is the answer to this question? Why?

3. Here is Mr. Farago’s answer to that same question:

The truth is that a museum’s digital assets can’t duplicate its brick-and-mortar presence — and the best of them, the ones I’ve selected here, do not try. Rather, they regard a museum’s physical and digital activities as complementary platforms of a single mission. They take the ambition and intelligence and public commitment they bring to the galleries, and feed it into new channels onscreen.

Do you agree? What is your response to his answer?

4. Choose one of the museums mentioned in the article — one that you didn’t already visit in the warm-up activity — and spend some time exploring its online collection. Then respond to the following questions:

  • What did you notice about the museum’s online experience?

  • What did you like or appreciate about the presentation?

  • What changes do you think could make the visitor experience even better?

Choose one artwork you encountered during your online explorations above, or spend more time discovering another piece of art via the websites featured in the article.

Take a few minutes to look carefully at the work you selected and then respond to the following questions adapted from our weekly “What’s Going On in This Picture?” feature:

Then, dig a little deeper:

  • What do you notice about the composition, colors, objects and people in the artwork?

  • Why did this artwork stand out to you? What do you find interesting or moving about it?

  • What do you think is the purpose of this artwork? What do you think the artist wanted to communicate?

  • What questions would you ask the artist about this work, if she or he were here?