The Museum Paper is designed to encourage you to see and study original works of art in a museum/gallery. Select one art work in any museum and write a paper based on your selection. Use the format given below. There is no minimum or maximum length but 3-4 pages is the length of most papers.
Select a work that appeals to you. First describe the subject matter or content of the painting/ sculpture. What do you see? What is the medium, the size,, etc. What does it seem to be about? How does it make you feel?
Next, analyze this piece in terms of the elements and principles as well as the other terms we’ve discussed in class. How does the artist use these to communicate his/her message? How does he/she use these to create a mood or reaction on the part of the viewer?
Discuss context. What time period, style or “school” is the work from? What was happening in the society at the time that the artist may have been responding to? Is it an homage to another artist or time period? Is it typical or atypical of that artist’s work? Is it typical or atypical of most work being produced at that time?
Finally, what drew you to choose this piece? Do you like it or not? What does it mean for you personally? Do you think it’s worthy of being in a museum or not? If you could afford it, would you buy it?
1. Your paper must have a cover page. A copy is attached.
2. Your paper should be divided into four separate sections with subtitles. This will help you focus your note taking and thinking as well as your writing on the piece.
B. Elements and Principles
3. You must credit all of your sources with citations . Unless a thought is 100% completely your own, its source must be cited in the body of the paper.
a. Ideas or theories should be cited unless they represent general knowledge. Cite interpretations for paintings, for example, by using the format given below. If you write that Van Gogh’s Starry Night refers to death, cite your source, (Stokstad, pg. 1100) .
b. Quotations should be limited, but when you include them, use the following simple format: “The Mona Lisa has no eyebrows.” (Smith, p. 412) Then list all the information on Smith’s book at the end of your paper in the bibliography.
c. Never take words, phrases, portions of sentences, sentences or paragraphs directly from a source without using quotation marks and citing
the source. It is plagiarism if you do, and is not legal or ethical. Plagiarism has damaged many careers and reputations.
d. Plagiarism will result in a failing grade on the work submitted. text. This virtually guarantees a full letter grade lowering and the impossibility of obtaining an A. This applies to any amount of plagiarized text, even a single sentence or series of phrases.
4. Your paper must contain a bibliography with the full information on all your sources. Below is an example of a basic, acceptable bibliography:
1. Battery. (1990). Encyclopedia Britannica. (pp. 100-101). Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica.
2. Best batteries. (December 1994). Consumer Reports Magazine, 32, 71-72.
3. Booth, Steven A. (January 1999). High-Drain Alkaline AA-Batteries. Popular Electronics,
4. Brain, Marshall. How batteries work. howstuffworks. Retrieved August 1, 2006, from http://
5. Cells and batteries. (1993). The DK science encyclopedia. New York: DK Publishing.
6. Dell, R. M., and D. A. J. Rand. (2001). Understanding batteries. Cambridge, UK: The Royal
Society of Chemistry.
7. Learning center. Energizer. Eveready Battery Company, Inc. Retrieved August 1, 2006, from
8. Learning centre. Duracell. The Gillette Company. Retrieved July 31, 2006, from http://
6. You must provide an image of the artwork. If the museum does not allow photos, check the gift shop for a postcard or use “Google Images” to search for one.
7. Grammar and spelling: The ability to express yourself clearly and concisely is very important. Art appreciation involves learning facts about objects, but also requires the ability to accurately and meaningfully describe these objects. Learn the terms and practice using them.