"I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way," Georgia O'Keeffe said. "Things I have no words for."
These words came from an American painter, but artists and craftsmen worldwide share the sentiment. Art is a form of communication found verging on every culture of the world. Having a broad command of visual literacy, I will confidently say, is a form of global literacy.
Museums house collections of art and artifacts of cultural and historical importance. Visitors to museums learn about traditions, but more importantly, are challenged to think critically about creativity and perspectives. Museums help people learn about humans through time and place, and the human condition in general.
There are a number of museums that cater to global learners. Here are links to some of them and the educational resources they offer.
Asian Art Museum
A San Francisco institution, this museum is also one of the biggest collections of Asian art in the Western world. Their recently redesigned website offers educators many ways to find content that's relevant to what you're teaching. See the online resources.
Asia Society Museum
Asia Society houses a preeminent collection of art from throughout Asia, and is known for its cutting-edge exhibitions of contemporary Asian art. It is the first American museum to open a branch in China. For teachers, an online Asian art teaching guide that features masterpieces from Asia Society's Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. The site includes downloadable teaching units, high-resolution images, historical maps, and more. For greater New York, Houston, and Hong Kong schools, contact Asia Society for Museum and artists-in-residence programs.
Cleveland Museum of Art
The Cleveland Museum of Art's impressive collection includes art and artifacts from Asia, the Middle East, Latin and South America. See their online collection for digital access to primary resources and their education programs for other classroom tools and professional development opportunities.
El Museo del Barrio
El Museo, a New York City museum focused on Caribbean and Latin American cultures, hosts a variety of teacher professional development workshops including gallery guided tours, a presentation of education programs, and packages of resource materials. The two-hour and whole-day sessions give educators ways to explore cultural, historical, and arts-integrated curriculum linking classroom studies with exhibitions. Art-based workshops are also available to provide educators with hands-on experiences.
Japan Society Gallery is an excellent source for researching and understanding Japanese art. Its education programs provide broad historical and cultural contexts for teachers and students. Be sure to check out their About Japan website for educators and social networking site for students.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Designed to provide elementary and secondary school teachers with an opportunity to incorporate the visual arts into their curricula, the education program focus on special exhibitions or thematic selections from the museum's permanent collection that represents art and artifacts from throughout the world. See their lesson plans organized by grade level and their distance learning offerings.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
With one of the world's greatest collections of arts and artifacts from around the world, the Met offers many programs, activities, workshops, and printed and electronic information created for teachers and students. Its website features more than 3,500 objects from its collection and has a very impressive timeline of art history.
Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies
The Smithsonian Institution's online education center offers programs, services, and resources for teachers and students. An easy-to-use website allows users to search by topic (see the Art & Design section), academic discipline, grade band, and world region.
UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History
The Fowler's collections comprise more than 150,000 ethnographic and 600,000 archaeological objects representing prehistoric, historical, and contemporary cultures of Africa, Native and Latin America, Asia, and the Pacific. See their teaching guides.
What museums do you turn to to help students visualize the world?