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Art Historians for the Day

Before the holiday break, PCD's art history students tested their new visual literacy and analytical thinking skills with a trip to the RISD Museum of Art. The annual trip allows students to look critically at the "real thing" while also making cultural and historical connections between their classroom learnings and the exhibits.

By researching in advance, the group of seniors acted as "docents for the day," in which they reviewed approximately 32 Classical, Medieval, and European pieces. By unpacking the images and sculptures, students shared their understanding of the context, the creator, the motivation, intent, and purpose of each piece. The examination of images in different settings allows students to understand historical developments, social relationships, economic realities, or political systems in a new and often more profound way, says Moira Anderson '15, who studied Art History at Smith College and served as a chaperone on the field trip.

"Art is crucial in history classes because it contextualizes, and it can be much more poignant. An image or sculpture can invoke a whole other level of understanding that you might not get from reading in a textbook," she says.

Nicholas Allienello '20 agrees and says the entire class enjoyed the field trip. "It was great to see so many students make connections to pieces that were from a variety of places and times. It is fascinating to study history through art because you can truly see how each culture and time period expressed themselves."

Ms. Mennucci says the class and field trip is popular among the students and helps expand their ideas for college and career opportunities. "Our art history course at PCD is great because it opens up an area that students wouldn't normally consider having an interest in learning or pursuing. Many students go on to minor in art history or continue to study it in college. They also express interest in learning about jobs and career paths that would allow them to work at a museum."

The seniors will also tour the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City in the spring.

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