Making art history accessible for all –

Are you an art teacher? An art student? Or just a general art geek? If so, take a look at this fantastic art history website: It features short videos about different artworks from art history. What makes these videos more entertaining than your usual monologue-style educational video is that these videos have unscripted conversations between art historians about the work of art under scrutiny. These spontaneous conversations, with occasional differences of opinion, make for lively listening (and learning).

Basically is a free, not-for-profit, art history textbook presented online as a multimedia web book. It began as a blog by Dr. Beth Harris (Director of Digital Learning at the Museum of Modern Art) and Dr. Steven Zucker (a specialist in 20th-century art and theory and Chair of History of Art and Design at Pratt Institute) who wanted to teach art history in a more interesting and engaging way. The blog grew into a fully fledged website that has won some great accolades including:

  • the coveted Webby Award for Best Education Website, 2009
  • PC Magazine’s Top 100 Websites, 2009
  • Gold Award, AVICOM, International Council of Museums (ICOM), 2008

The videos serve as a basic introduction to a work of art and with over 300 available, you could watch one a day for nearly a year. The website is well organised and you can search for information by Theme, Artist, Style or Time. Besides the videos, there are essays, links to other relevant websites, FlickR images, and you can even join a study group online. So check it out at

To give you a taster, here Beth Harris and Steven Zucker discuss Leonardo’s painting, Adoration of the Magi, in the Uffizi, Florence.

Leonardo da Vinci, Adoration of the Magi from Smarthistory Videos on Vimeo.


3 thoughts on “Making art history accessible for all –

  1. We included the Khan Academy in This is Art a little while ago and we are also developing a great library of art documentaries. All Geelong artists are welcome to This is Art so that they may learn, have some fun, and contribute their own material to the ever growing Australian art network.
    Our most recent project has been to create an Australian art map to locate art around the country for tourism and education and therefore I would be very interested in discussing this project with potential community volunteers.

    Rob Mackay
    Curator of This is Art

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s