NEW Summer 2024 - Please Touch the Art: A Hands-On Approach to Art and Art History

LS 780-01
Summer 2024
Wednesdays, 6-8:30 PM
GLS House Room 0101

Instructor: Dr. Lauren M Sanford

This course will teach students how to safely examine, handle, and understand objects from hands-on experiences. Students will gain the skills necessary to approach art from a practical perspective and valuable real-world art experiences. We will employ resources at surrounding museums, galleries, auction houses, artist studios, art conservation studios, and frame shops to enhance approachability and broaden conversations about art. In addition to classroom learning, we will visit these galleries, auction houses, etc when possible.


Readings throughout the semester will relate to the week’s topic and activity. For example, one class will teach students how to identify prints, and the professor will bring in real prints for examination under magnification. A reading from Bamber Gascoigne’s How to Identify Prints will explain what to look for in preparation for class.

Other topics and readings include: 

  • The art market and auctions (Simon de Pury, The Auctioneer: Adventures in the Art Trade)
  • Museum theory and practice (Stephen E. Weil, Making Museums Matter)
  • How to read and understand an artist’s catalogue raisonné. We will use artist Salvador Dalí’s catalogue compiled by Albert Field as an example (Albert Field, The Official Catalogue of the Graphic Works of Salvador Dalí) 
  • History of exhibitions and installation, specifically the establishment of the Royal Academy in England (David Solkin, Art on the Line)


Throughout the semester: Short assignments include writing a museum object label for an artwork of choice, either as part of an exhibition or permanent collection installation. Another short assignment will be writing a catalogue entry for an object offered through an auction house.

Final project:

Students’ final project will be a more comprehensive version of the shorter assignments. Students will curate their own digital museum exhibition OR build a digital auction. They can chose from unlimited objects found online and/ or found in person.