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Introduction to Art (ART 1010)

Museum Paper

Purpose: in written format, record what you see using the information you learned about the visual elements of art and principles of design.

  • Your paper must include a cover sheet with your name, the Instructor’s name, the course title and section number, and the date on which the assignment is due.
  • For the artwork chosen, your paper must be no less than three (3), but no greater than five (5) typewritten, 1.5-spaced pages (which does not include your reference page) in 12-point font with 1” margins on all sides.
  • The paper must also include a Works Cited page, which will not be counted as part of the page limit. With regard to references, please keep in mind PGCC prefers the MLA style for which a guide will be posted to the class’ Blackboard site.
  • Make an in-person visit to the National Museum of African Art in Washington, DC (Located on the National Mall at 950 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20560; closest Metro: Smithsonian stop on the Silver, Orange, and Blue lines). Students located outside of the metropolitan DC and Baltimore areas should send the instructor a personal email to discuss this requirement.
  • With the exception of Christmas day (December 25), the museum is open daily from 10 am – 5:30 pm. Please plan your visit by visiting the museum’s website ( to learn what is on view, and to help provide direction on what you might want to see. The museum’s phone number is 202.633.4600.
  • Select one (1) work of art—either a two-dimensional or three-dimensional piece. The artwork can come from any country or time period, but must be seen in person at the museum, not simply on the Internet, since artwork looks differently with the naked eye, opposed to through digital imaging.
  • Include a color image of your artwork. Under the image, label the work of art, just as you see with the images in your textbook, by providing the artist’s name, title of the piece, the date created, its medium and support, dimensions (if applicable).
  1. Without exception, a labeled image (provided in color) is required.
  2. Please keep in mind the museum does not permit flash photography nor photographing works that are on display through Special Exhibitions. If an artwork has been chosen from a Special Exhibition, please visit Google Images to find a JPG to embed into your paper.
  • In this written portion, analyze your artwork as stated below:
  1. The first paragraph will introduce the work of art. The name of the artist, the title of the work, date created and medium/media used will be stated. The discussion will then be narrowed down to a clearly stated thesis statement.
  2. The body of the paper will support the thesis through analysis of specific criteria. (Please view the Museum Paper Expectations PDF or PowerPoint slide show for an example on how to write for each of the following sections.)
    • Content/Subject Matter– a brief description of what is depicted, including any identifiable iconography (meaning, the background information about a work of art).
    •  The formal/visual elements of art – analyze how are the following elements are used in the artwork. If one of these elements are not seen in your work, state that fact (e.g., “there is no sense of texture in this artwork”). When considering these elements, remember they all have sub-sets with more than one (1) way to view the element. (For instance, Color refers to specific types of colors as well as color harmonies.)
  • Line
  • Shape
  • Color & Value
  • Texture
  • Space
  • The principles of design – analyze how are the following principles are used. If one of these elements are not seen in your work, state that fact (e.g., “no sense of emphasis and subordination or rhythm is seen in this artwork”). When considering these principles, remember many have sub-sets with more than one (1) way to view the principle.
  • Also, just as with the visual elements of art, some of the following principles of design, such as balance, have subsets and the outcome of rhythm depends on whether your work is a two- or three-dimensional piece. Remember, some of the following, such as visual unity & variety, must work together as pairs to be understood.
    • Unity
    • Balance
    • Emphasis
    • Proportion
    • Rhythm
  • Detailed Context: identify media and technique used to create the artwork and its style. Write a discussion that relates this information to the historical and cultural context during the time that the artwork was produced.
  • Content – discussion of how the above mentioned points (8.b.1 through 8.b.4.) enhance or further explain the content of the artwork.
  • The conclusion will offer a brief summary of the main points of the paper and explain how the thesis was proved.

Please be aware that this is the general assignment for ART 1010 and your professor may have altered the requirements. Always refer to your professor for the most up to date information.