Building Visual Literacy: A Toolkit for Interdisciplinary Teaching from University Art Collections

Many colleges across the country possess small but rich art collections that have the potential to expand curricula in dynamic ways across a range of subjects. Such collections often hang on the walls of offices, public buildings, or are hidden away in storage. Collections staff work diligently to engage faculty with the collection, encouraging them to incorporate artworks into their courses. We seek to facilitate the cross-disciplinary use of Washington and Lee’s (W&L) art collection by creating a series of multidisciplinary lesson plans focused on objects in the collection.

This collection development model harnesses the expertise and enthusiasm of many individuals from across campus to develop content related directly to curricular needs. The toolkit lessons (click on the images below for preliminary examples) are truly interdisciplinary and engage students and professors from diverse fields including museum studies, studio art, art history, chemistry, neuroscience, economics, theater, and chemistry. The web-based toolkit ensures that content developed over time is archived and accessible to a wide public.

Art Collection Research Project | Museum Studies

Photogrammetry of Uncle Tom’s Cabin | Digital Humanities

Mr. Brainwash | Art History & Studio Art

James Hamilton and David Brewster | Environmental Studies

Robert Indiana | History; Copyright Law

Jose Krapp | Engineering; Philosophy

Hollingsworth | Art History; Studio Art; Music; Civil Rights

Louise Herreshoff | Poetry; Creative Writing

Albert Contreras | Art History

Uncle Tom’s Cabin Vases | English; History

Eliot Dudik | History; Journalism