With or without a bus trip to the Center or Villa, teachers can take their students on an exploration of art history from classical to contemporary using the new website Getty Books in the Classroom. Focusing on children’s books from Getty Publications, the site links each title to related resources created by the Museum Education Department, including lesson plans and activities, videos, and related reading—even a customized field-trip map. The site includes tips to help instructors navigate teaching a range of art topics, from the making of a 15th-century illuminated manuscript to the modern-day science of artists’ materials.
Making History Colorful
The Brilliant History of Color in Art takes students on a whirlwind tour from the prehistoric cave paintings of Lascaux to contemporary Los Angeles street art, stopping along the way to meet such diverse artists as ancient Chinese scroll painters, Michelangelo, Claude Monet, and David Hockney. The section of the website dedicated to this book includes activities, handouts, and lesson plans to guide classroom learning.
Students explore the principles of design and the history of pigment and can apply this knowledge through activities such as paint making and crafting verbal descriptions of landscape scenes for a partner to draw. Discussion questions also tie the book to the personal experiences of students, asking them to reflect on topics such as, “Like Kandinsky, have you ever seen a painting or work of art that made you see the world a different way?”
Align Art with the Core
By linking each book with resources for cross-curricular investigation in Language Arts, Social Studies, and Science, the Getty Books in the Classroom site helps teachers connect to Common Core standards and state curricula. The California Missions: History, Art, and Preservation traces the history of these iconic buildings, discusses their unique architecture and wall murals, and examines current challenges of preserving this heritage. Used with the Caldecott Medal fiction title Song of the Swallows, teachers can create comprehensive learning experiences to enhance the California history curriculum.
Bimba Landmann’s The Incredible Voyage of Ulysses is a retelling of Homer’s epic tale in the form of a graphic novel. Students re-create favorite scenes through tableaux vivants and learn how different cultures have depicted stories from The Odyssey in art. This is an excellent addition to study of ancient cultures and literature.
Take Lessons Back into the Museum
Greece! Rome! Monsters! is a superbly illustrated book that illuminates phoenixes, basilisks, and griffins, among many beasts from ancient times. Alongside lesson plans and activities, there is also a self-guided museum tour of the Getty Villa. Teachers and students visiting the Villa can connect the book to objects such as a Greek hand mirror decorated with the head of Medusa from the 5th century B.C. and a Roman statuette of a snake-legged giant dating from the 2nd–3rd centuries A.D.
Beyond the Museum and Classroom
The task of covering thousands of years of development—within every region of the world—can make art history seem like a daunting subject to teach. Getty Books in the Classroom aims to make this history manageable and compelling by featuring books with vivid illustrations and accessible texts, alongside relevant classroom activities.
These resources will help inspire students with knowledge and an appreciation for the art they see, not only in museums but surrounding them in everyday life.