final museum paper

PART 1:The content of your Final Museum Paper should include…

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  1. The full name of your selected artist and the work of art to discuss for the final essay – identify them within the first two sentences of your statement. Add the date right after this, too. NOTE: you can pick a work of art from this week’s reading OR you can choose your own selected work of art.
  2. What you think is the subject matter is – is it clear? Or is this work of art more abstract? What does abstract mean in relation to the subject matter? Be as clear and descriptive in your discussion as possible. Don’t be afraid to use a dictionary or review some good university or Art History websites for a definition that makes sense to you. AND ADD SOURCES! You will need at least 2 or 3 sources IN ADDITION TO our textbook. Start practicing this this week!
  3. Identifying mediums (printmaking, painting, etc.) – this should always follow the title (in MLA format – underlined) and is considered the “introductory” portion of your discussion about a work of art. When you mention this, post the image to the post! This is a very effective way of illustrating what you are talking about. 
  4. Discussing the style (Symbolism, Impressionism, etc.) – same as the medium (cite it immediately after you declare the work of art)
  5. This part should go fairly quickly! Select one source and be sure that it is an academic source. No Wiki pages,, or similar random Google results. Practice refined searches by using key words, such as “art journal”, “Art History”, “formal analysis” and other terms along with your topic. Check that the sources are good, such as museums, university pages, news sources (for example, the New York Times and the Guardian UK have awesome Arts sections).

PART 2: Follow this by expressing your initial reaction to the work — a very brief description of the work, basically. What did it make you feel? Did it remind you of a place or person? Or was it more of a message that it expressed to you?

This is a freestyle part, if you will. Be sure to talk about it in terms of what it brings to mind, and then cite what part of the image led you to make this association. Write down single adjectives, too, to help you get a good brain storming session going.

PART 3: Choose one methodology that you will use to interpret the subject matter and context of the works of art.  Do not confuse this part of the assignment with writing about the approach that the artist took (that is called their style) – the methodology is your own way of understanding and explaining the work of art. You will be graded on getting this aspect correct, so please aim to work on this with attention to detail!

You may choose from these methodologies — pick ONE only and talk about why it is an appropriate methodology for your selected art work:

  • Formalism – good one to use for Modern or Abstract art
  • Iconography – good one to use for Byzantine/Medieval or Renaissance art
  • Marxism – this one is good if you happen to use the Art, Politics & Community or the Art & Commerce examples of art
  • Feminism – while this one is an obvious choice for woman-themed issues and themes (such as Art & Motherhood), it can also be fun to apply this to older art work, made before the 1970s (when feminist reached its cultural prominence)
  • Psychoanalytic Theory – this is advanced so you must have my approval to use it, unless you are a Psychology major or especially confident in your research skills
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