Academic Connections at the Museum of Art
This fall has been an exciting semester for class visits to the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, with courses from across the disciplines at Bowdoin making rich and varied uses of the collections.More than 1,000 student visits have occurred, and nearly 1,000 objects have been pulled from storage for class sessions in the Zuckert Seminar Room. Each class visit is in many respects a potential exhibition in the making, and it has been a joy to watch students interact with the art, and each other, over diverse objects and topics. A selection of portfolios highlighting recent class visits is now featured online. Below are a few highlights.
James Higginbotham, associate professor of classics, taught a course on the “Archaeology of Ritual and Myth” that met weekly in the Zuckert Seminar Room. Students in this course honed their skills for close examination and writing about objects using the Museums rich collections of Greek and Roman antiquities, with units on ancient coins, ceramics, and sculpture. Jens Klenner, assistant professor of German, and the students in his course “German Literature since 1945” worked with a selection of photographs documenting the protest movements of 1968 by the German photographer Michael Ruetz. This research led to a new exhibition, Spring of Discontent: The Photography of Michael Ruetz, now on view in the Becker Gallery. Similarly, Allison Martino, Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Africana Studies, and the students of “African Art and Visual Culture” have made use of a collection of African textiles from Nigeria in the Museum’s collection. Their Becker Gallery exhibition Dressing Modern will open in late January.
An exhilarating insight this semester has been to observe the role that the Museum can play in fostering foreign language classes. This semester, we have had introductory and advanced courses in Arabic, French, Spanish, and German visit the galleries and view objects in the Zuckert Seminar Room. Among them, an advanced French course visited the Museum in October to view works related to various French literary movements. For students acquiring a new language, visiting the Museum has been a useful exercise helping to expand vocabulary and practice a new language in new and different contexts. It has also proved to be a worthwhile experience for learning to appreciate and understand art. Without familiar English phrases and idioms to fall back on, students are forced to look closely at art with fresh eyes, describe it with new vocabulary, sometimes of the most basic level, often leading to exciting epiphanies and personal revelations.