Course description

The average museum visitor spends less than 30 seconds looking at a work of art. However, research shows that there are many benefits to slowing down, looking closely, and making room for deeper engagement. What are those benefits? How does one even begin to look closely? And how can we convince audiences of the power of slowing down? This course takes advantage of the diverse, world-class collections at the Harvard Art Museums to teach first-hand the principles of close looking, while taking a critical approach to this form of museum pedagogy. We read key scholarship on a variety of close-looking methods—from writing to juxtaposition to contour drawing—and then experience and assess those methods for ourselves at the Harvard Art Museums. We explore what close looking can look like for various types of audience and imagine creative ways to engage viewers longer and more deeply. Course activities include close looking alone and in groups, active discussions, and group presentations. For complete and current details about this Harvard Extension course, see the description in the DCE Course Search.


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