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Use these activities before, during, or after your video-based lesson on The Arts in Pittsburgh.

If you haven't read our Tips for using video in the classroom, we suggest you take a look there first, then come back here to choose materials to construct your lesson.

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The Arts in Pittsburgh


What is art for?
The famous
The folk
Where art lives

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What is art for?

bullet It's an honor

Look up all the synonyms you can think of for honor or tribute. Dictionary.com and Thesaurus.com are fun online sources to use. Word Menu is What are the differences in meaning or connotation between all of those terms? [Honor, tribute, memorial, commemorate, remember, observe, etc.]

Find out how the state goes about naming highways and bridges. What guidelines are used to nominate someone for these official honors? What does it take to have an official proclamation made by the city or state? Who has received these proclamations? Are they usually living or dead?

Sometimes honors are built in bricks and mortar or are cast in bronze or carved in stone. Oakland is full of such honors. Look for them and keep a running list on your next Oakland field trip. Check out the It's an Honor activity for some of them.

What people and events have been honored in Oakland? [Carnegie, Phipps, Frick, Stephen Foster, Back, Galileo, Christopher Columbus, Robert Burns, Soldier from Spanish-American War, George Westinghouse, Henry Heinz, Soldiers and Sailors Hall] Research what these people did to earn their honors (how many were built by others and how many were built by themselves?).

Sort your list of honorees into some logical categories. What categories have you come up with? [Examples: People and events; Pittsburghers, non-Pittsburghers; Famous, Not Famous; Scholars, Business people, Religious leaders, Artists, musicians, authors; Everyday people; Before and after death, etc..]

How many were Pittsburghers? [Foster, Frick, Heinz, Carnegie, Phipps] How many lived elsewhere? [Bach, Burns, Galileo, etc.] What are some of the less famous names you have seen?

How are buildings named after someone different from statues and other kinds of memorials? What is a bigger honor?

What do these tributes tell us about our values? What kinds of people do we admire? What do the statues and memorials in Oakland tell us about what that place is about? Would you have chosen the same people to honor? Who would you add? Is there anyone you think did not deserve this honor? Who? Would you choose different people to honor in Oakland than you would for your home neighborhood?

What makes a good memorial? How would you like to remember someone? Who would you like to remember?

To explore these ideas and honor someone you admire, see the It's an Honor activity.

[Back to Oakland Special Edition]

Who does art? Who loves art?

bullet Collecting Ourselves discussion

See also, Collecting Ourselves activities

Pittsburgh's museums, libraries, archives, and individual collectors are keepers of our cultural and natural heritage. Are you one of those packrats--ahem, collectors?

What do you collect? Why?

What fascinates you about your collection? What is your favorite piece in your collection?

How do you decide what to add to your collection? Do you go for quality or quantity? Why? How is "quality" judged for the things you collect? Is that the same criteria you use to judge the quality of your collection or to make buying decisions?

How are the collections of the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Phipps Conservatory, and the Carnegie Library different? How are they the same? How do you think the curators and librarians there make their collection decisions?

What are the special challenges in collecting living (or ex-living) things? Is it right to collect living things?

What are the special challenges of collecting art works?

What are the special challenges of collecting books that are available for loan?

What are some of the "rules" museums and libraries have about their collections? What are the reasons for those rules?

In "Something about Oakland," Richard Armstrong, Director of the Carnegie Museum of Art called the museum the "Palace of the Imagination across from the Cathedral of Learning." What would you call the Carnegie Museum of Natural History? Phipps Conservatory? The Carnegie Library?

What other interesting collections are in Oakland? [Nationality Rooms, the Center for American Music at Stephen Foster Memorial (library and museum), Hillman Library and its Archive of Industrial Society, Hunt Institute of Botanical Documentation at CMU, Rodef Shalom's Biblical Garden, etc.]

What other collections do you now about in our area? [Heinz History Center, the Pittsburgh Zoo, the National Aviary, Clayton and the Frick Art Museum, Old Economy are just a few.] For 65 museums in our area, visit the Greater Pittsburgh Museum Council's web site.

Follow up this discussion with these "Collecting Ourselves" activities:

  • Have students share what they collect in our Collecting Ourselves Gallery and read about other Pittsburghers' collections.

  • Caring for your collection. Help students start off on the right foot with their own collections. Learn how museums care for their collections and decide how to add to them.

  • Botanical Bounty. The special challenges of collecting living things.

video icon Related video stories from "Something about Oakland":

  • Carnegie Museum of Art
  • Carnegie Museum of Natural History's Bug Room
  • Carnegie Museum of Natural History's Dinosaur Hall
  • Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
  • Phipps Conservatory
  • Nationality Rooms at the Cathedral of Learning

video icon Related video stories from other programs:

[Back to "Something about Oakland" Special Edition]

Where art lives

bullet Symbols

See also these related activities Symbolize, Nationality Rooms Treasure Hunt, Oakland Walking Tour Treasure Hunt.

video icon Related video stories:

bullet Taking a Closer Look

It can be challenging enough to look at art from our own culture! Art from other cultures and traditions is even more challenging to understand and appreciate. But students can learn to explore art from their own and other cultures-- reading images is a skill that can be developed just like reading books.

Taking a Closer Look (off-site link-- use your "Back" button to return to this site) is a systematic way of looking at art from any tradition, but it is especially useful for looking at art from non-Western traditions. When you visit the wonderful collections and special exhibits at one of Pittsburgh's museums or galleries, take this quiet activity with you and let students get to really get up-close and personal with a work of art!

Or adapt the questions for classroom discussion about art from any culture.


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