Resource Highlight: the Met Museum’s Open Access

Looking for digital images for your students to use in projects? The Metropolitan Museum of Art has made thousands of public domain images available.

On February 7, 2017, The Metropolitan Museum of Art implemented a new policy known as Open Access, which makes images of artworks it believes to be in the public domain widely and freely available for unrestricted use, and at no cost…We encourage you to explore the images of artworks the Museum believes to be in the public domain by visiting Collection and selecting the “Public Domain Artworks” filter in the left-hand column.

The featured image is a silk dress from the 1750s from the collection that is not currently on display.  For more information on the availability of images (and data from images that are still restricted), read the rest of their post here.

What’s at Stake: Government-Supported Humanities

Government support for scientific research is going to be the subject of another march on Washington, D.C. very soon. And support for both basic and applied scientific research is clearly important: it’s led to important discoveries that impact our health and well-being on a daily basis.  Basic research provides the building blocks for applied research:

Major innovation is rarely possible without prior generation of new knowledge founded on basic research. Strong scientific disciplines and strong collaboration between them are necessary both for the generation of new knowledge and its application. Retard basic research and inevitably innovation and application will be stifled.

For example, studying systems biology has led to a new understanding about how medications can interact in the body, and how they’ll interact with the food we eat. Practical outcome: if you’re taking iron supplements, taking a stomach medication like Pepcid will reduce the amount of iron that your body will actually absorb, and eating foods high in vitamin C will increase the amount.

But the federal government doesn’t only fund science!  It also funds the humanities: history, art, philosophy, literature, and languages — all the aspects of human cultural constructs.  The National Endowment for the Humanities funds a tremendous amount of work by local governments, universities, public libraries, and independent scholars engaged in the production, dissemination, and preservation of culture.

A small sample from the list of NEH grant recipients in New York’s 1st congressional district (the east end of Long Island) in the past ten years can illustrate this more clearly:

  • a public library needing to purchase storage furniture to rehouse and preserve collections of books, maps, photographs, diaries, and whaling logs used in research and exhibitions on the history and culture of Sag Harbor, New York, from the eighteenth century to the present.
  • a musicologist requesting assistance in preparation for publication of volumes 4, 8, 13, 19, and 21 of the complete online digital edition of the secular music of Luca Marenzio.
  • a town needing training in disaster preparedness to preserve the town’s historical records from 1640 on, comprising over 6,500 cubic feet of manuscripts, maps, bound volumes, photographs, newspapers, and other published and unpublished materials.
  • support for four Iraqi professional archaeologists to attend an intensive training program in Remote Sensing and GIS and to survey archaeological sites in the key Nippur, Uruk and Eridu survey areas for evidence of site damage from looting and development, recording new sites, ancient landscape features and intra-site details.
  • a professor writing a book on how people with cognitive disabilities have been and should be dealt with in philosophy both with respect to what is due them and with respect to what is conducive to their good.

NEH funding made a re-creation of John Donne’s “Gunpowder Speech” possible, a project that made a virtual reality St. Paul’s Cathedral: the featured image is St. Paul’s Churchyard, looking east, from the west; from the Visual Model constructed by Joshua Stephens and rendered by Jordan Gray.  Important because the five hundred-year old cathedral burned down in London’s Great Fire of 1666.  The project allows us to experience what it was like for someone in 1622 (minus the smells, of course) — very different from the present-day cathedral!  And if you’re thinking “that’s nice, but I don’t see the connection to real life” think about how useful this technique would be for solving crimes, or diagnosing illness long distance, and so on!

Does an organization in your community have a project that needs funding? Involving your students in the grant application process could be a real learning experience, demonstrating the importance of federal government funding for the humanities.


BulbgraphOnOffUse social media such as Instagram to document student’s finished projects.


Preview WorldView Software’s programs for free at company logohttp://www.worldviewsoftware.com/preview/

Resource Highlight: Green’s Dictionary of Slang

Words can change their meaning depending on the era and context in which they are used.  You can use words to enrich your units just as much as images, audio, and video.

For example, do an in-depth investigation of the cultural flowering that was the Harlem Renaissance. Start by reading the background history in WorldView Software’s American History II (Chapter 8: American Changes during the Roaring 20s).

Then read the poetry, view the paintings, listen to the music, and watch the dancing!  (This finding aid and teacher’s guide from the Library of Congress have a wealth of materials beyond those listed above.) And then maybe imagine a scene at a nightclub, with characters using their particular patois, written with the help of Green’s Dictionary of Slang, which has a limited edition now available free online.  Oh, and obviously don’t call someone a hep cat if you don’t want to look hopelessly unhip:

definition of hep cat from Green's Dictionary of Slang

[The featured image is “Drawing with Two Colors,” a print from 1915-1920 by Winold Reiss, a German-born artist who lived in New York City and whose work was deeply affected by the milieu.]


BulbgraphOnOffUse social media such as a Facebook group to take and share class notes, share study resources, and ask questions.


Preview WorldView Software’s programs for free at company logohttp://www.worldviewsoftware.com/preview/

Resource Highlight: the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History

Time travel using art with the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: essays, art images and objects, and chronologies that use the Met’s fabulous collection to delve into the contexts that made the art possible.  For example, the featured image is “Bowl with Human Feet” and it is thousands of years old.

Period: Predynastic, Late Naqada l–Naqada II
Date: ca. 3900–3650 B.C.
Geography: From Egypt
Medium: Polished red pottery
Dimensions: diam. 13.2 x W. 13.7 x D. 9.8 cm (5 3/16 x 5 3/8 x 3 7/8 in.)
Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1910
Accession Number: 10.176.113

Timeline situating the art in context.
Timeline situating the bowl in context.

The timelines have annotated entries that give more information about the society that produced the art.  (There are also links to publications and slideshows from the Met that feature the image or object.)  More generally, the essays cover topics as diverse as African Lost-Wax Casting through Great Plains Indians Musical Instruments to the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368).

How would your students explain today’s artworks?

Happy Thanksgiving from WorldView Software

A roundup of interesting bits on the origins of the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States:

  • Terrific interview with Ramona Peters, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s Tribal Historic Preservation Officer about what really happened on the “first” Thanksgiving.
  • Think Thanksgiving is all about pilgrims and turkey? Could have been salt pork and biscuits, as this post from the Smithsonian makes clear!
  • How Thanksgiving went from its regional roots to a national holiday in the nineteenth century.
  • Tired of only using the old Norman Rockwell Freedom from Want (the featured image) to illustrate the holiday? Try out Doris Lee’s painting Thanksgiving, from the Art Institute of Chicago.  It’s a different style and set in a different time period from the Rockwell piece, which makes it good for comparisons.
  • A modern adaptation of a Wampanoag recipe for Autumn Sobaheg. (We haven’t tested this, but it looks both easy and delicious.)

Bonus link: adaptable lesson plan (aimed at middle school level, but there’s no reason older kids won’t enjoy it).

In my house, we have the traditional turkey, but make the sides with a “twist” that reflects our mixed ethnic heritages (for example, cranberry chutney instead of sauce). How do you and your students celebrate the holiday?


BulbgraphOnOffUse our databank of study questions in a polling service such as in Google Classroom to do quick mid-stream assessments.


Preview WorldView Software’s programs for free at company logohttp://www.worldviewsoftware.com/preview/

Bucket List

Lots of people make a “bucket list” — a list of things to do and places to see before they die. And lots of the places people choose are well-known natural wonders and historical monuments; often places they studied about in school, like Stonehenge in WorldView Software’s World History A:

Screen capture of Art image, introduction, and questions from WorldView Software's World History A.
Screen capture of Art image, introduction, and questions from WorldView Software’s World History A.

But you don’t have to stick to just the most well-known places. No matter what area of the world your class is studying in history or geography, challenge them to find some off-the-beaten-track places that they would also like to see!

There are some excellent resources on the web for this.  And just like reality, you don’t have to stick to the well-known sites like National Geographic and Discovery.  You can also use social media (try the #travel and #nature hashtags on Instagram), and check out some of these other sites we’ve found.

My Modern Met

My Modern Met is where the featured image on this post can be found.  By Omid Jafarnezhad, this image of the Nasir al-Mulk “Pink” Mosque in Shiraz, Iran offers a burst of color to the visitor.  Keeping with the “colorful” theme, but venturing to a different continent, check out the town of Guatapé in Colombia, also found on the site:

View of a street lined with colorful buildings.
View of a street lined with colorful buildings, by Jessica Devnani (pinkplankton.com)

Atlas Obscura

Atlas Obscura is where you can find a map of the 10,000 places they’ve documented as of October 2016.  That includes places like Thor’s Well in Oregon, where the Pacific looks like it’s draining into an alternate dimension (Asgard, possibly?):

Photo of sea water draining down a massive hole in rock.
Thor’s Well, by Thomas Shahan on Flickr, cc by 2.0

Or the tranquil beauty of the Kuang Si Waterfalls in Laos:

Kuang Si Waterfalls, by Basil Strahm on Flickr, cc by 2.0
Kuang Si Waterfalls, by Basil Strahm on Flickr, cc by 2.0

Once you’ve picked some places or things your students want to see, try the following activity for building connections to learning by investigating its history:

  • If it’s a man-made place, investigate how it is different from other buildings in the same area.  What were the building techniques and how the costs of construction were covered?  Who were the architects and builders, and what did their work day look like? What was the purpose of the building, and why was it important enough to justify that expense?
  • If it’s a natural place, ask how and why it has been preserved.  Is it a sacred place, and if so, what is its meaning? Finally, ask if there are forces such as economic development pressures that enhance its standing or endanger its presence.

Use these answers to make connections to what had to be happening in the wider society that would make the building or preservation possible, and what that context looks like now and in the near future.


BulbgraphOnOffPrint out materials such as a document or image, including introduction and short-answer questions, to read at leisure. (For now, some may require a little copy-and-paste.)


Preview WorldView Software’s programs for free at company logohttp://www.worldviewsoftware.com/preview/

The Art of Map Making

From the BBC:

With the rise of smart phones, paper maps are among the many things that have seemingly lost their place in many of our lives. One man says relying so heavily on digital maps is detrimental to our geographic literacy.

Dave Imus works alone in his small farm house in rural Oregon, but he is one of the most prolific cartographers working in the US. The geographic illustrator says the way geography is taught in schools “bores even me”.

He says if we think about maps as art rather than science we’ll be able to relate better to our surroundings

 

video image capture (2 minute video, opens on BBC site)
video image capture (2 minute video, opens on BBC site)

He has a point: people with decent mental maps don’t do things like follow GPS to their deaths.