Within the Museum during Fall Semester
While most learning is taking place off campus this semester, the Bowdoin College Museum of Art remains a site of exciting and innovative teaching and learning on the Bowdoin campus. For remote learning classes, the BCMA has offered faculty a variety of strategies to engage the art and exhibitions of the Museum in their remote teaching. New this semester, faculty have been able to livestream from a video studio set up in the Walker Art Building, working together with the curatorial team and virtually transporting their students into the museum. Through these live sessions faculty and students have been able to draw dynamically from the rich collections of the Museum, enabling visual arts classes to interact virtually with medals in the collection, art history classes to learn about exoticism in nineteenth century European art, and German cinema classes to learn about German expressionism in the early twentieth century.
The Museum has also worked closely with faculty to develop new strategies for sharing specific works in the collection with students at home. Together with members of the Museum’s curatorial team, faculty have recorded short object videos featuring up close examinations and conversations around individual works of art at the Museum to share with students. The Museum has also newly purchased a pair of 3D scanners from Artec3D. Collaborating with Academic Technology and Computing, the Museum has begun sharing 3D models of works in the collection created for Bowdoin classes, like this model of a Roman fish plate at the Museum. Behind the scenes, the Museum has continued to develop the ePacket system launched last spring to deliver newly digitized works, new digital assets (including 3D models and object videos), and greater access to the Museum’s collections to our campus community.
With first year students in residence this Fall, the Museum has also welcomed a number of First Year Writing Seminars into the Walker Art Building. Classes from across the disciplines have made special visits to tour and engage new and ongoing exhibitions in the upstairs galleries, including Presence of the Past, New Views of the Middle Ages: Highlights of the Wyvern Collection, and Assyria to America. To increase the amount of space for teaching (and social distancing), the downstairs galleries have been used to bring out works for classes from Art History to Biology to Africana Studies, with many classes making repeat visits to the Museum.
In these challenging times, the chance to visit the museum and connect with the artworks and exhibitions on view has seemed all the more special. Overheard in the galleries, more than one freshman newly arrived on campus has observed how exciting it is to have access to the BCMA: “You mean, normally we can visit anytime we want? For free?”Sean P. Burrus
Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow
Bowdoin College Museum of Art
Illustration: Filming a conversation about a work of art in the galleries of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art