Choose Your Own Adventure

POSTED BY , ON September 06, 2012, 5 COMMENTS

As a museum educator, one of my most important goals is to engage in dialogue with visitors about works of art. Along with each of my colleagues in the Museum Education department, I work toward this goal each day through gallery talks, seminars, and other programming.

Whenever you come to the museum, you’ll find a gallery talk led by myself or another member of our dedicated staff. We talk about topics ranging from the museum’s architecture to Japanese Prints to Surreal Spaniards. In fact, talks on all of those topics happen this month.

There are a number of points we consider when choosing talk topics, but after an energizing experience at the National Art Education Association convention this year, I’m inspired to look to all of you for feedback. Visitor-driven tours were one of the major threads throughout the conference, and they’re something I’ve always felt strongly about. Visitors on my gallery talks often make specific requests, and each time this happens I schedule a future talk on just that topic. For example, I received multiple requests for the Cornell Boxes earlier this year, and I promptly scheduled a gallery talk on that collection.

So, I’m putting this question out there: What do you want from a gallery talk? (Within reason, of course.)

What themes or artists or eras or cultures are you interested in learning more about? Which historical or contemporary issues would you like to explore through our collection and exhibitions?

Don’t hesitate to share your interests—either in the comments or directly with me at—we can’t wait to hear what you think!

—Kate Kelley, Museum Education Fellow


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5 Responses to “Choose Your Own Adventure”

  1. Ida Hagman says:

    Two topics come to mind — I saw the Genghis Khan exhibit at the Field Museum and found I know so little about Mongolian Empire but it was huge. Any Mongolian art to talk about?

    Also, I would love to hear a talk about the Hindu sculptures.

  2. Elias Martin says:

    I would love to learn more about Japanese prints. Of particular interest is 20th century Japanese prints.

  3. Kate Todd says:

    Went on your build your own tour today and it was great! Also I love going to see more obscure places in the museum.

  4. Brett Jacobs says:

    I love art!

  5. kate says:

    Thanks for the comments!

    Ida: Yes, we do have some Mongolian works in the collection, although there are rarely many on view at once. I’d love to discuss these on a gallery talk.

    Also, Hindu sculptures tend to be featured in our Asian Art gallery talks (a theme repeated every 11 weeks). The next one is at 12pm, Thursday, September 27. We often feature Hindu works in more specific themed talks such as Art of India, which I’m doing at 2pm, Friday, October 5! Otherwise, I’ll definitely make a note of this topic for the future.

    Elias: I hope you made it to the Japanese Prints talk this afternoon! If not, don’t fear – this is one of 11 rotating topics for the Thursday talks, as is Asian Art.

    11 seems to be the magic number, because our Japanese Prints gallery (107) rotates exhibitions about every 11 weeks. Here is a link to the current show description:

    If 20th century prints are what you’re most interested in, monitor the Art Institute’s exhibition page. You can expect to see some new and rarely seen modern Japanese prints next spring, if not sooner!

    Kate: Thank you for the kind words. I also enjoyed the choose-your-own-adventure tour – preparation was especially fun and challenging for that one. I’ll be offering a variation of it again in February, so keep an eye out!

    Great idea about obscure places in the museum – I’m planning on it already!

    Brett: I love art too!