Art Around the World

Art and Language Arts Activity

In this activity, students will explore the art styles of different cultures by researching and then creating a "museum exhibit."

WHAT YOU NEED

WHAT TO DO

  1. Tell students that, like archaeologists or art historians, they are going to investigate and create a "museum exhibit" showing the art of a particular culture. Divide the class into small groups, and give the groups time to research and chose a particular culture. Examples: Ancient Greece, Ancient China, Navajo, Cambodia, Maya, Byzantium.

  2. Distribute to students a copy of a world map. (You can download and/or print and copy the map provided at Education Place if you don't have one available.) On the world map, have students color in the area of their culture and post a label including the name of the culture and its date range.

  3. Students then create their exhibit by choosing artifacts and artworks which they fell best represents art of the culture. Pieces can be represented by student-made posters, photographs, drawings, and models of the artworks. Each artwork should be accompanied by an information card explaining what the artifact or artwork is, who created it (if this is known), what it was used for, and the date it was created. Students should also write a general overview giving a brief description of the culture and the major aspects of the art style they are studying.

  4. Assemble tables or groups of desks as exhibit spaces and have students arrange their pieces, including the world map, the overview, and the information cards. Each exhibit should have a "curator" from the group to answer questions. Have students circulate through the "museum." Tell students that as they view the artworks and artifacts they should note similarities and differences among art styles. You may also wish to invite other classes to view the displays.

  5. Discuss with the class certain motifs, styles, or forms that students may have noticed among the exhibit pieces, citing specific examples. (For examples, both Mayan and ancient Egyptian cultures built pyramids; both ancient Greek and ancient Roman cultures used columns in their architecture.) Elicit theories from students explaining why some forms or styles appeared when and where they did.

TEACHING OPTIONS

You may want to find a public space in your school or at some location in the community to display the exhibits for a period of time. Students may wish to create posters to publicize their "museum." Then take the class to visit a real museum or art gallery.

As an extension activity, have students choose two cultures and create a "Similarities and Differences" chart comparing the cultures' art styles. Charts could be hung on the class bulletin board or used as the basis for oral reports.


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