Instructor Toolkit

Class visits in the Museum allow for closer study

Our class visits are rooted in direct observation and small group discussion, encouraging students to look carefully and connect works of art with larger course-related concepts and learning outcomes.

Following are a few recent examples of ways that UConn Instructors have incorporated the Benton’s collections into their teaching.


AAAS 2030: Art, Politics, and Propaganda

Na-Rae Kim selected a group of World War I posters for an Object Study Session at the Benton. Students spent time describing, analyzing, and interpreting the posters in small groups with a worksheet, which became the basis for discussion with Dr. Kim and Benton staff.  

AMST 1700 Honors Core: Walden and the American Landscape

Christopher Clark and Robert Thorson planned a visit for their American Studies class with three stations that introduced students to the links between mid-19thcentury American art and Transcendentalism. In one station, Assistant Curator/Academic Liaison Amanda Douberley led a focused discussion of the painting Blue Ridge Wilderness(c. 1860) by William Sonntag using the Critical Lookingframework. In the second station, Dr. Clark facilitated an Object Study Sessionwith eleven prints from the Benton’s collection that picture life in rural New England. In the third station, Dr. Thorson oversaw free-hand copying of sketches by Henry David Thoreau and others.

ANTH/LLAS 3029: The Caribbean

Noga Shemer’s anthropology class visited Ancestors of the Passage, an installation by Puerto Rican-American artist Imna Arroyo that addresses the transatlantic slave trade. The group of forty students came to the museum in two shifts, with half the class watching a thirty-minute film while the other half discussed Arroyo’s work in the museum with Benton staff. The class visit examined representations of slavery, colonialism, and their legacies through a comparison of multiple media.

ART 3210: Topics in Illustration

Alison Paul made What’s the Alternative? The Art and Outrage of the 1960s Underground Pressintegral to the first assignment in her studio art class. Students attended an in-class lecture on political cartoons and satire. Then they visited the museum for a guided discussion of What’s the Alternative?and the related exhibition, From Hogarth to Daumier: Satirical Prints in the Benton’s Collection, 1720-1848. For the assignment, students created their own political cartoons from one of three categories: health care, student loan debt, or climate change. The cartoons were critiqued by What’s the Alternative? guest curator and political cartoonist Dwayne Booth (Mr. Fish). Read more about the assignment here:

ENGL 1701: Creative Writing

Pegi Shea asked her creative writing students to write ekphrastic poems inspired by original works of art displayed in the Benton. The group spent time writing in the museum as part of a self-guided class visit.

GSCI 1055: Geoscience and the American Landscape

Phoebe DeVries led a discussion of the links between art and geology on a self-guided class visitwith her geoscience class. The group examined sculptures inside the galleries and on the museum grounds.

JOUR 3065: Visual Journalism

Students in Scott Wallace’s journalism course visited Face-Off: Confronting Portraiture, an exhibition of works by contemporary photographers that engage portraiture. Working in small groups, students were asked to choose two portraits and then explain to the class how each artist challenged the conventions of portraiture. The in-gallery discussion was facilitated by Wallace and Benton staff.

ME 3250: Fluid Dynamics I

George Matheou curated a Curricular Exhibition in the Balcony Gallery for his mechanical engineering course that featured works of art from the Benton’s collection and computer simulations of natural phenomena. Students engaged the exhibition through a written assignment and discussion. Read more about the exhibition.