Unique Partner in Classroom Pedagogy

By on April 29th, 2019 in Classroom Pedagogy, Education

The museum is an ever-evolving resource with boundless opportunities in art learning! With a collection of around 5,600 objects ranging from antiquity to contemporary, the Cornell Fine Arts Museum offers intimate, personalized, and transformative encounters in art learning for disparate disciplines in higher education. Over the course of the academic year, the museum hosted countless visits for classes from Rollins College, the University of Central Florida, Valencia College, and Daytona State College. Among the departments using the museum are: Anthropology, Art & Art History, Business, Career and Life Planning, Chemistry, Communication, Computer Science, Critical Media & Cultural Studies, English, Environmental Studies, History, Honors Degree Program, Latin American & Caribbean Studies, Middle Eastern & North African Studies, Modern Language & Literatures, Music, Philosophy & Religion, Political Science, Rollins Conference Courses, Rollins Foundations in Liberal Arts, Sexuality, Women’s & Gender Studies, Social Entrepreneurship, Sociology, and Theatre Arts & Dance.

Through art, students reinforce and expand on class topics, explore different modes of communication, examine various perspectives, and challenge their critical thinking skills beyond the classroom. Rollins College Adjunct Professor Ashley French of Sexuality, Women, and Gender Studies noted:

I love including a visit to CFAM with my classes when applicable. And most semesters, there is something we can use and relate to in our academic inquiry. The museum is instrumental in providing experimental learning and getting students out of the classroom and into the world to apply things we read about in class.

Museum staff work closely with professors to identify and discuss collection connections to their syllabi. The collaborations take various forms including staff-guided tours of the collection, or special exhibitions centered around class themes; specialized visits with the collection in the print study room; semester-long museum projects; student presentations in the galleries; opportunities to meet with visiting guest lecturers and artists; and self-guided museum assignments. Museum collaborations are not limited to the aforementioned, and the staff is open to new ideas and partnerships.

Spring 2019 Partnerships

During the spring 2019 exhibition season, four classes from separate areas of study utilized the same exhibition, The Place as Metaphor: Collection Conversations in completely different, innovative ways. From specialized assignments to themed tours centered around class discourse, students exercised transferrable skills and engaged in experiential learning.

Art + Dance

Rollins College Director of Dance, Robin Gerchman, brought her Moving Stories and Conversations class to the museum for a tour and assignment connected to the exhibition. The course objective was to give students an awareness of their authentic voice in society to create their own personal “moving” story. The Place as Metaphor builds conversations around ways of seeing and illustrates the notion of “place” in its varied definitions. Students toured the exhibition, considered themes of identity and place, created choreography inspired by the works on view, and performed their pieces in the galleries for their classmates. Professor Gerchman shared “I am looking for ways to get the students to experience movement beyond their comfort zone!”

Art + Critical Media & Cultural Studies

Associate Professor of Critical Media & Cultural Studies, Denise Cummings, brought two sections of her Native American Media and Cultural Studies to the museum to expand on class discussion. Through investigating visual and cultural representation, this course explored how contemporary indigenous peoples reclaim textual production to form identity, reconstruct the past, revitalize culture, and assert sovereignty and treaty rights. The class looked critically at the museum’s collection of late-nineteenth to early-twentieth century photographs of Native Americans in addition to works on view by Hoc E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds, Jaune Quick-to-See-Smith, Albert Bierstadt, Achille Guerra, and Andy Warhol in the exhibition. The dialogue between past and present works of art contributed to class discussion centered around Native American identity and representation over time. Professor Cummings felt the museum “delivered a wonderful opportunity for the students!” The visit was a “highlight of the term, and I am really grateful for all your professionalism, enthusiasm, preparation, and execution!”

Art + Biology

Professor Danielle Palow’s Ecology and the Environment Rollins Foundations in Liberal Arts course introduced the ecological principles that form the basis for understanding current environmental issues. Throughout the class, students studied the diversity of species and habitats in Central Florida. During their visit to the museum, they drew plant life along Lake Virginia, studied landscape paintings in The Place as Metaphor exhibition, and toured a selection of Audubon prints in the museum’s print study room. With close-looking and contemplation, students considered the connections between art and science. Professor Danielle Palow commented “The discussion about why the bird prints were created and about the history of art as a way to record the natural world” were areas of discussion that best connected to the class curriculum. One student noted before leaving, “Thank you for sharing the Audubon prints with us. Beautiful!”

Art + Political Science

Rollins College Honors Seminar How Democracies Die studied democracy promotion, democratic mobilization, and reaction against the erosion of democratic rights and values in the United States and around the world. Professor of Political Science, Don Davison, shared their museum “tour was excellent. The art pieces selected fit perfectly with the themes from my class. One student remarked that he enjoyed how well the art works corresponded with the topics on democracy that we had been discussing this semester.” The work by contemporary artist, Danh Vo, We the People for example, generated a discussion around the fragility of democracy and the importance of democratic values. Work by Patrick Martinez, Jaune Quick-To-See Smith, Michael Stone, and Jerome Meadows were also incorporated in the visit and opened discussion centered around identity, immigration, citizenship and responsibility.

Future Cultural Leaders

The Cornell Fine Arts Museum works collaboratively, like other American academic museums and galleries, to influence “the nation’s next generation of cultural leaders.”1 Through museum visits, students can conduct: “skill development, interdisciplinary analysis, comparative analysis, social critique, research, and creative inspiration” outside the classroom in a nurturing space for growth and shared discovery.2

For ideas and inquiries on museum partnerships, please contact Dale Montgomery Fellow, Elizabeth Coulter at ecoulter@rollins.edu.


1 Association of Academic Museums & Galleries, “Great Universities Have Great Museums.” Accessed December 6, 2018. https://www.aamg-us.org/wp/about-us/

2 Corrine Glesne, The Exemplary Museum: Art and Academia (MuseumsETC: Edinburgh & Boston, 2013), 91.

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