The Johnson Museum provides a wealth of staff expertise and a variety of spaces to support teaching with original works of art. Museum curators and educators collaborate with faculty to place students in first-hand conversations with objects. Each academic year, hundreds of classes from across the disciplines take advantage of the unique resources and learning opportunities offered by the Museum.
A four-year initiative, “Connecting Research with Practice,” generously funded in 2013 by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, supports the development of a core group of courses that model innovative, intellectually rigorous object-centered teaching and research. Courses taught over the coming years will engage as many faculty and students as possible while drawing on curricular areas and campus resources that are particularly strong and in some cases unique to Cornell.
In addition, the Museum regularly offers two semester-long courses, offering undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in many schools, departments, and programs at Cornell the opportunity to interact with original works of art.
Explore the work of recent courses and projects in this section.
History of Art Majors' Society
The Museum provides the History of Art Majors’ Society (HAMS) an opportunity for Cornell students to acquire pre-professional curatorial experience by curating an annual exhibition under the guidance of Museum staff. Using the collection as a starting point, students develop a theme, choose artworks, and research and write catalogue entries for a publication. Students apply for internal campus grants and organize public programs related to their exhibition.
The Museum and the Object
This introduction to object-based research examines best practices in the areas of collections care, connoisseurship, interpretation and display, and preservation. Topics include methods of attribution, fakes and forgeries, technique and media, restoration and conservation, art education, and theories of perception. This annual, semester-long course is taught by a faculty member in the Department of the History of Art and Visual Studies and Museum curators.
The Museum and the Public Sphere
Through site visits and a broad curricular program, this course evaluates different types of museums and their evolving missions. Topics include the nature of collections and of the audience; political and cultural questions about collecting, history, and interpretation; and the core ethical and intellectual positions held by museums. A semester-long team planning project for a regional museum is presented to the client. This course is offered every other year and taught with faculty in Historic Preservation and City and Regional Planning.
The Museum also offers seminars on exhibition practice and design, which result in a student-driven exhibition and publication, such as Topography in Translation in 2010. Beginning in Spring 2013, the Museum will participate in “Delve Deeper: Research Methods in the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences,” a new Cornell undergraduate writing course using library resources, Cornell collections, and other sources.