Agile Objects: Teaching and Learning with Real Things

September 2016

In September 2016, Dr. Jim Harris, Mellon Teaching Curator at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, shared with colleagues at Penn and the Philadelphia Museum of Art his experience in teaching with objects. Harris led two events: an informal walk-through of the museum’s sculpture collections with graduate students, and a formal talk about the teaching outreach initiative at the Ashmolean. Accompanied by Jack Hinton, Associate Curator, the graduate student encounter with the extraordinary sculptural collections at the PMA focused on Harris’s area of specialty, polychrome sculpture. The formal lecture, "Agile Objects: Teaching and Learning with Real Things," was presented to a full lecture hall at the PMA, and focused on the Oxford-Mellon initiative to involve disciplines outside of Art History, Archaeology, and Classics with the collections at the Ashmolean. Harris discussed his success in engaging English, Medicine, and even the Business School with the transformative experience of learning directly with objects.