Museums are Boring and Irrelevant, Right?

I have always struggled with teaching about museums with my students. They are disengaged, I am frustrated, and overall it just sucks. I had been day dreaming earlier this spring about how to connect my students to museums.

I was watching on twitter how my Literature twitter friends had connected This is America to some incredible activities in their content. I was edu-jealous.

But I remembered this image of Jay-Z with Marina Abramovic


This is from Jay-Z’s music video Picasso Baby which has some fun controversy within it.  As I was dreaming about how to use this in my classroom, something amazing happened.

Beyonce and Jay-Z dropped this video.

WHAT?! This is literally the universe dropping a gift into my lap. And then.. they dropped the whole album, which is truly a gift.

So I got to thinking and listening and watching on twitter. So many people were sharing their expertise in regards to this video.

It was wonderful.

So here’s what I’m going to do with my students.

We are going to start as a whole class watching this video and then discuss briefly the questions that are going to frame our learning:

  • How do life experiences influence the way you relate to art?
  • How does learning about art impact how we perceive the world?
  • What can we learn from our responses to art?
  • How does art help us understand the lives of people of different times, places, and cultures?
  • How is art used to impact the views of a society?
  • How does art preserve aspects of life?

Then students will engage in this hyperdoc.

Students will explore the Louvre using Google Earth, a virtual tour, and another virtual tour.

Their first task is to share with the larger group (either out loud or in writing) what they found in the museum. I’m not really looking for anything specific but am looking for them to find some connection to something inside.

Then the learners will have a choice of two activities – one broader where students can choose which piece from the video they want to dig down into using the lyrics and art analysis and one more specific using the Mona Lisa and The Carter’s fame to connect.

Throughout the process of working on this activity I plan to play the entire album because it’s so good and there are incredible messages of collaboration, community, and representation.

I’m pretty excited about this assignment and think that using technology, relevant musical artists (I mean it’s Beyonce, come on!), and choice within, students will find a place to see themselves within the museum setting even if the Louvre only has one piece that’s not of a white person and none by non-white artists.

What ways do you teach about seemingly boring content? How do you connect relevant topics to non-relevant content?

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