1.Notice the way you move around the art exhibition. What are you looking at first, third, fifth, and last?
Often, the order that things are placed in an exhibition is intentional. There is a progression within the exhibition. Sometimes, the exhibition is designed a specific way in order to distinguish historical differences. Other times, the reasons are more subtle. For example, in historical exhibition, the tour may start with actual historical items, and end with a response that is theoretical.
2. Approach an art exhibition like an essay.
For example, what is the thesis statement of the exhibition? It is easy to get distracted by why YOU are going to a museum and what YOU want to learn. These are important questions. While asking them, remember that teams of people have put together a lesson plan for you that is diagrammed, and expressed in the exhibition.
3.Where are things displayed?
Often curators talk to their different audiences through design. For example, curators might talk to an adult audience using higher placed text panels, and may talk to a more youthful audience with lower text panels. Hints as to which audience is being addressed are found in font, and size of text. For children, text is usually written in fonts that are more cursive, less linear, larger print, and fewer words. Adult text tends to be smaller in scale.
Curators are also very aware of adults’ attention span. The most important and basic information is often at the top of the panel, bolded, and larger. As the explanatory text continues it assumes the reader wants to be reading it. The explanation will be more thorough.
4.What do you see?
Take mental note of visual facts: color of the object, shape, material etc. The transition to understanding what meaning may be in the object or artwork is tricky. However, it is possible, and most accurate, when you first look at facts, and then try to interpret.
5.What is the object?
Have you seen this object before? Where? In a car, kitchen, school, etc? Now that you are looking at this object in a museum, has its purpose, or function changed?
Written by: Editorial Team, My Learning Springboard, Inc.