Exploring Art, Museums, and Archives

Engage with art history through the permanent collections of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University and the archives of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Conduct primary and secondary research using the resources of the Duke University Libraries. Venture outside the classroom to experience the public art around the Duke campus. 

Why is a carved wooden paddle used by ancient Americans in their fishing boats more than a century ago displayed on the walls of an art museum? Why is an image of rotting flowers painted in oil on a canvas surface from 1709 by Jean-Baptiste Bosschaert, an uneducated painter from Belgium, considered fine art? Learn how to answer these questions. 

Write a wall label (description) on one selected artwork encountered over the course, and present your research and decisions to your peers in front of the work of art. Get ready for a crash course in global art history as you examine the implications of the museum space, challenge definitions of art and art history, and consider the significance of artmaking in understanding humanity's past and present.