Art-Reach Pre-Visit Activity: Art Talk

Please view the two reproductions with your class and lead a discussion using the following questions as guidelines. There are no “right” answers. The questions are meant to guide the group discussion. Students will re-visit and discuss these works as well as others during the ArtReach visit. The vocabulary in this packet will aid discussion.

Research and experience have shown that students feel more comfortable when they can connect with something familiar when the Museum educator conducts the program. The students enjoy sharing their insights from the pre-visit discussion with the educator.


The Collecting visit focuses on ceramics as well as two-dimensional works of art in Boise Art Museum’s Permanent Collection. Students will talk about the formation and importance of collections and generate their own artful collections in the hands-on project. BAM’s Permanent Collection currently consists of 2,350 works of art including paintings, drawings, prints, contemporary photographs, ceramic works, sculptures, glass works and ethnographic objects. A distinguishing characteristic of the collection is the inclusion of more than 650 works in various media by Northwest regional artists. Works from the Permanent Collection are displayed in themes selected by BAM’s curators.



collecting 1

Lucinda Parker (b. 1942)
Ledge and Swamp, 2000
Acrylic on canvas, 60” x 145” (two panels)
Permanent Collection
Purchased with funds provided by Howard and Dottie Goldman and Ross Pirasteh




  • What colors do you see? What kinds of lines do you see?
  • Does this painting remind you of anywhere you’ve been before? Where?
  • Close your eyes, open them and look at the painting. What part of the painting do your eyes go to first?
  • Do you think the artist was in a real place while she painted or do you think she was painting from her imagination? Why?
  • Do you think the artist took a long time to do this or do you think she did it quickly? Why?
  • Is this a painting you would collect? Why?


collecting 2David Shaner (1934-2002)
Stoneware Slab, 1969
Stoneware, 18” x 18” x 2 ½ “
Permanent Collection
Gift of John Takehara

  • What is the first thing you notice when you look at this piece?
  • What do these works of art have in common? How are they different?
  • This piece is made from clay and hangs on the wall. Do you think this should be called a painting or a sculpture? Why?
  • How would this piece change if it had colors like Lucinda Parker’s painting?
  • Why do you think the Boise Art Museum collected these two works of art?






Collection A selection of objects grouped together based on some common characteristic(s).
Curator The person responsible for taking care of a museum’s collection, and for deciding how it should be displayed. Curators are in charge of collecting and caring for objects, as well as explaining their meaning and importance to visitors.
Medium: A specific kind of artistic technique or means of expression as determined by the materials used or the creative methods involved: the medium of lithography. The materials used in a specific artistic technique: oils as a medium.
Media: The plural of medium.


ArtReach Curricular Connections
Collecting Across the Curriculum

Teachers can adapt the following curricular connections to meet the needs of any grade level.


  • Determining the value of a collection is an important part of museum work. Discuss with students the difference between monetary value and sentimental value. Are collections only important if they are worth money? Consider auctions – objects that may not be worth a lot of money sometimes sell for quite a bit because someone at the auction is willing to pay for them. Sentimental objects are very important and special to the owner. Visit:
  • Ask students to name the people who work in a museum or other fields related to collecting. Guide them through making a list of careers and briefly discuss the responsibilities of each position. Have students choose a job that they will research. Have their research focus on finding a well-known or particularly influential person from that field.


  • Knowing the story behind historical objects and artwork is important to curators and collectors. Have students select an item that has special meaning to them and write the history of the object: how they got it, who made it, who bought it, where it came from, etc. This is also known as an artwork’s provenance.
  • Find an interesting artwork or historic artifact. Without revealing all the important details, give students some general information about the piece. Example: This is a ceramic bowl. It was first found by a farmer, but now it belongs to a museum. Ask students to write an imaginary history of the piece based on their observations. Make sure to note that it is more important for students to be able to justify their conclusions than it is for them to be factually correct about the object.
  • Work on reading comprehension and descriptive writing asking students to look at a work of art and
    write a detailed description about the piece on a notecard. Collect the notecards and put the images around the room. Redistribute the notecards to the students making sure that no one gets the same
    card they wrote. Have students walk around the “gallery” trying to match the description to the painting.
    Or read the description and have students decide which one they feel best fits the description.
  • Have students collect original source material for a research paper/project related to your curriculum.

Social Studies

  • Collections can tell us about the past. Think about what you can learn about someone by looking at what they carry in their backpack. Consider what a collection of kitchen utensils and dishes can tell us about the person who owns them. Are they messy? Do they cook a certain type of food? Do they have matching dishes or a lot of different ones? Is this because they break them a lot? Try collaborating with school faculty and letting students identify the mystery person – the principal, the cafeteria worker, the nurse – from a collection of objects from that person’s desk.

Foreign Language

  • Have students choose a simple object and ask them to make a collection of words from other languages that mean the same thing. They can then sort and group the words by country, sound, or appearance.
  • Have students collect cognates in a notebook. Begin by writing the English word and then list the cognate from your language of study. Students can choose how to organize their words either by subject, meaning, or spelling.


  • Explore symmetry and asymmetry by arranging and rearranging objects for a display. Consider choosing some objects that are identical and some that are similar. Also explore fractions and division as students try to make objects fit into different sized displays. Example: How many different ways can 12 cups fit in a display with 3 shelves? Can you fit them symmetrically or not?
  • Using graph paper, magnets, transparencies, or the black board have students arrange artwork of varying dimensions on the “gallery wall” according to specific instructions. Younger students can physically place them on the wall with tape while older students can use rulers and graph paper to draft their layout. Example: If the wall is 12 feet long and 10 feet high determine how many 1 foot by 1 foot paintings you can fit on that wall. Keep in mind that curators generally do not hang paintings 1 foot from the ceiling or the floor (no one would be able to see them). Your rules and instructions should include things like the minimum amount of space between each piece, how many rows are allowed, which pieces can be used, how many pieces, and how much space should be left at the top and the bottom of the wall.


  • Have students bring in something they own that came from another city, state, or country. Have students share information about the object with the class and mark the place of origin on a map. Students with items from the same areas can sit in a group to discuss the similarities and differences between their objects and how they came to own them.
  • Discuss what tools are necessary for collecting scientific specimens. Have students create their own collecting kit that might include a bag, a pencil and a notebook, a magnifying glass, etc. Send students out to collect objects or natural materials related to your science curriculum.
  • Learn about sorting, classifying, organizing, comparing and labeling by giving students collections of rocks, minerals, bones, leaves, shells, nuts, or seeds to arrange into a display. Once each student has displayed his or her collection, have students walk from desk to desk to visit other collections. Encourage students to ask each other about how they went about organizing their display. Hint: Egg cartons are great for displays.
  • Have students collect scientific data and create an organizational chart to explain their findings.


  • Have students bring an item from their personal collections to share with the class. Have them explain what the common characteristic of their collection is, how it is displayed at home, and why they started collecting the items.
  • Use words related to collecting as part of vocabulary and pronunciation lessons. Examples: (names of people who collect certain things) (names for groups of animals)

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