Information for University Classes

The Benton is a resource that supports teaching and enhances learning across academic departments at the University of Connecticut. The museum offers instructors a variety of opportunities for their classes to engage with original works of art.

Class Visits          Object Study Sessions              Curricular Exhibitions               Campus Art Walks

Class Visits

We welcome class meetings in the Benton galleries that engage temporary exhibitions as well as the permanent collection. Faculty may schedule a self-guided visit, or work with museum staff to facilitate discussion and craft related assignments. For sample lesson plans and activities, visit our Instructor Toolkit page.

Use the request form to schedule your class visit, which is required for groups of more than ten people (including self-guided class visits). Advance notice of at least two weeks is recommended to ensure availability of gallery space and personnel. Contact Amanda Douberley, Assistant Curator/Academic Liaison, for more information.

Object Study Sessions

Only a small percentage of the Benton’s permanent collection is on display at any given time. Faculty may request objects from storage for class meetings at the Benton. Plan your visit by searching our online database and use the request form to schedule a study session. Advance notice of at least four weeks is recommended. Contact Amanda Douberley, Assistant Curator/Academic Liaison, for more information.

Curricular Exhibitions

The Balcony Gallery and Study Gallery are available for short-term exhibitions that support UConn courses. Benton staff work with faculty to select objects, which can be displayed for sustained engagement by students and the UConn community. Recent collaborators include the African American Cultural Center, School of Nursing, and the Department of Art & Art History. Contact Amanda Douberley, Assistant Curator/Academic Liaison, at least one semester prior to the desired exhibition date.

Campus Art Walks

Benton Docents lead tours of the many works of contemporary art located across the UConn campus. Learn about the artists and their creative process as well as the selection and siting of each artwork. Use the request form to schedule a tour. Contact Allison Golomb, Education Coordinator, for more information.



Walker Evans (American, 1903-1975), The Plenge Chemical Co., Charleston, S.C., 1935. Gelatin silver print. Robert S. and Naomi C. Dennison Fund for Acquisition.

Tutorial Polish ‘Print Sampler’ At Benton Museum

By Susan Dunne for the Hartford Courant

The University of Connecticut and the art academy in Krakow, Poland, have a special relationship. For many years, starting in 1985, when Poland was still behind the Iron Curtain, an unofficial exchange program sprang up among printmakers from both colleges, leading to an exhibit of Polish prints that same year.

“It was an eye-opening exhibition. At that time there was not much stuff from central and eastern Europe on exhibit in this country,” says Gus Mazzocca, a professor emeritus at UConn.

A new exhibit up now at William Benton Museum of Art on the UConn campus in Storrs celebrates that collaboration, with a collection of prints made in Krakow from 1960 to 1990. The exhibit also is instructional, as it focuses on various types of printmaking — mezzotint, woodcut, silkscreen, linocut, etching, aquatint and engraving — and explains how to do them.

Mazzocca, of West Hartford, taught printmaking from 1970 to 2012. Some of the prints in the show, he says, symbolize the everyday realities of living in a Soviet bloc country.

Mieczyslaw Wejman’s etching “The Cyclist” shows a chaotic scene, with a bicyclist having just had an accident, while the business of a factory goes on around him.

“Sometimes when bad things happen, people are paying attention, but sometimes they are going on their way,” Mazzocca says. “The landscape, with its dark, gulag kind of architecture, reflects the communist situation.”

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The Business of Bodies: Ellen Emmet Rand

The Business of Bodies: Ellen Emmet Rand (1875-1941) and the Persuasion of Portraiture

October 25, 2018 to March 10, 2019
East & Center Galleries

Ellen Emmet Rand was one of the most important and prolific portrait painters in the United States in the first decades of the twentieth century. If you were in government, business, the arts, a society woman, or even President Franklin Delano Roosevelt—and you could afford her fee—a Rand portrait was a signal of power and style. She re-envisioned the look of wealth, class, and business in her paintings. Yet, despite completing over 700 portraits and being one of the highest-paid female artists of her time, her reputation and acclaim all but disappeared after her death. This exhibition looks to assert Rand’s crucial place in the history of American art and critically consider the ways this artist negotiated her own career, family, and finances in modern, commercially-savvy ways.

The Business of Bodies will constitute the most significant assessment of Rand and her portraiture to date. Featuring the collection of Rand oil paintings, drawings, and photographs from the William Benton Museum of Art’s permanent collection, and works borrowed from museums and private collections, this exhibition looks to explore Rand’s work, and the business of painting portraits.

Image Credit: Ellen Emmet Rand (American, 1875-1941), In The Studio (1910) Oil on canvas, Gift of John A., William B., and Christopher T.E. Rand, William Benton Museum of Art

Art in Small Bites: Landscape – A way to bring culture to your lunch break

By Rebecca Maher for the Daily Campus

This week’s edition of Art in Small Bites was lead by tour guide Nancy Silander. She introduced landscape through two paintings from the 19th century, “Boston Navy Yard” and “Low tide,” by the artists Dwight W. Tryon and Ernest Lawson respectively.

Silander made the tour incredibly interactive, keeping it centered mainly on participants’ questions and observations.

“What you see on a painting is an artist’s conversation with the viewer,” Silander said.

Every person on the tour noticed different things about the painting. With Silander providing background on the time period, artists and painting techniques, the two paintings were analyzed pretty thoroughly.

Tryon was a self-taught American painter at the time that he made this painting in 1873, who painted largely tonalist paintings. “Boston Navy Yard” was painted in mainly muted colors, which gave it the impression of an early, foggy morning. It consisted of a largely empty version of the Boston Navy Yard, with only two people in view in the entire painting. Silander pointed out that Tryon probably felt that people were unimportant in landscape, she also explained that Tryon likely sketched the painting by the water, but then returned to his home to actually paint it. This meant that the painting turned out as a more idealized landscape, in which Tryon omitted certain aspects of the Boston Navy Yard so he could focus more on technique. His largest focus in this painting was playing with light and reflection on the water. His style of painting was very smooth, with all of the colors thoroughly blended to bring about a more realistic appearance.

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Upcoming Exhibitions

A Print Sampler: Explore Printmaking Techniques Through Polish Prints 1960-1990
March 22  –  May 27, 2018

Close Third Person: 2018 MFA Exhibition
April 3 – May 6, 2018

I AM A MAN: Ernest C. Withers Photography
February 1 – May 6, 2018

52nd Annual Studio Faculty Exhibition
August 31 – October 2018

The Business of Bodies: Ellen Emmet Rand and the Persuasion of Portraiture
October 25, 2018 – March 10, 2019

African Slave-Trading Center, Frederick Douglass Inspire Black History Exhibits

By Susan Dunne for the Hartford Courant

February is Black History Month, and nothing looms larger in black history than the evil specter of slavery. Three exhibits in the state take on this subject. Two were inspired by a notorious slave-trading center on the shores of Africa. The third pays tribute to the legendary escaped slave and abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass.

An exhibit at William Benton Museum of Art at UConn in Storrs by artist Imna Arroyo was inspired by the same historic site that inspired Hudson’s Hartford exhibit: the “House of Slaves,” the home of the “Door of No Return.” Arroyo, a retired art professor at Eastern Connecticut State University, visited the place and had a revelation.

“The guide said ‘This is the door of no return.’ Suddenly a voice from the deep part of my soul told me to say ‘No, I’ve returned’,” Arroyo says. “It was an amazing experience. Time is a continuum. It continues in cycles, a spiral, something like that. I came from a place and I return to a place. And there I was.”

For “Ancestors of the Passage” Arroyo sculpted 27 busts of men and women with staring eyes and grave expressions. She installed them on the floor, amid strips of blue, white and green silk, signifying the sea. Each holds up palms toward the sky. The figures represent the many who died during the voyage. (Slave traders expected many to die; they considered a voyage profitable if half the captives survived the trip.)

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