Classroom Takeover @ MUAM

Students from WST 122 looking around the museum.
When brainstorming possible upcoming exhibitions, Curator of Exhibitions Jason Shaiman works diligently in creating interdisciplinary displays that can be used by various classes and colleges on Miami’s campus. In creating these multifaceted exhibitions, students from all disciplines are invited to study the art on and off display.
Students from WST 122 looking around the museum.


Throughout the duration of any given semester, many courses use the museum to hold classes pertaining to the art in teh galleries or pieces that the museum has in its collection. Earlier this semester, WST 122, a course offered through Individualized Studies (Western Program), came into the museum to see the works on display and get a basic understanding of the exhibition and museum from docent-led tours. Because the class has over 120 students, the class had to split in half and come on two separate days.

Many classes taught in the Department of Art use the museum as a way to see the art they are studying in person, as opposed to a set of slides in a classroom. Dr. Pepper Stetler, associate professor of Art History, uses the museum as a resource in all her classes. During ART 285, an advanced writing course focusing on writing within the arts, Professor Stetler has students work on a series of three papers, each building off the previous. In the first of the series, students must pick a piece on display and research the topic, context, and any additional information that may be necessary. Here, Professor Stetler teaches her students how to analyze works, but also allows for the students to physically interact with a piece and connect to it away from using the internet. Other professors including Dr. Casper and Dr. Fenton have students focus on a specific piece or exhibition for various classroom assignments or semester-long research papers. By doing this, not only does the class require the students to visit the museum, but it allows Miami students to directly interact with various works that they would not usually have access to.

Students from WST 122 listening to a docent speak about the current exhibition: Department of Art Faculty and Alumni Exhibition

Other classes across the university use the museum to get a ‘behind the scene’s’ look at specific works that the museum has in its collection. While taking a printmaking course, students were able to get an up-close look at various prints the museum has acquired. During this, Collections Manager and Registrar Laura Stewart pulled a myriad of prints from the collection and brought them into the library for the class to interact with. Another example of this is the annual senior capstone the Department of Art facilitates in partnership with the museum. Throughout the semester, students research and execute their own exhibition with a faculty advisor. During this process, the students physically handle the works, providing an authentic experience many students do not have the opportunity to do. Not only do the students get to pick the pieces they want to include, they also get to curate the exhibition in how and where each piece is displayed within the gallery. Following its completion, the exhibition is open the following semester for its duration.

MUAM’s upcoming exhibition Telling a People’s Story will incorporate illustration, education, storytelling, creative writing, art, and much more. If you have a class that would be interested in coming to the museum, reach out to your professor or (Cynthia Collins the Curator of Education []) to set up a time!

Written by Caroline Bastian