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Immerse Your Students in Art History with this Art Restoration Activity

Restoration can be a magical process, preserving artwork for future generations to enjoy.

Or, it could go horribly wrong – Remember this?
 
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Perhaps you saw this viral article from The Huffington Post last year, Elderly Woman’s Hilarious Failed Attempt At Restoring A 19th Century Fresco In Borja, Spain, and, like me, chuckled, but it’s truly no joke.

The art of restoration is important, and not only for those working in the dark basements of museums as the article referenced. It’s important for our students to understand and appreciate this type of work too.

It’s so important, in fact, that the New National Visual Art Standards point directly to the art of restoration and appreciation in multiple standards. I’ve pulled the highlights for you below, which mostly show up in the “Presenting” string of standards. As you can see, there are quite a few! We need to talk more about these topics in our art rooms!
 

Preservation in National Core Art Standards – Elementary

Essential Question, #VA:Pr6.1 – What is an art museum? How does the presenting & sharing of objects, artifacts, & artworks influence & shape ideas, beliefs, & experiences? How do objects, artifacts, & artworks collected, preserved, or presented, cultivate appreciation & understanding?

Grade Pk, VA:Pr.4.1.Pk – Identify reasons for saving and displaying objects, artifacts, and artwork.

Grade 1, VA:Pr5.1.1 – Ask and answer questions such as where, when, why, and how artwork should be prepared for presentation or preservation.

Grade 1, VA:Pr6.1.1 – Identify the roles and responsibilities of people who work in and visit museums and other art venues.

Grade 4, VA:Pr.4.1.4 – Analyze how past, present, and emerging technologies have impacted the preservation and presentation of artwork.

Grade 5, VA:Pr5.1.5 – Develop a logical argument for safe and effective use of materials and techniques for preparing and presenting artwork.


Preservation in National Core Art Standards – Secondary

Essential Question, #VA:Pr6.1 – What is an art museum? How does the presenting & sharing of objects, artifacts, & artworks influence & shape ideas, beliefs, & experiences? How do objects, artifacts, & artworks collected, preserved, or presented, cultivate appreciation & understanding?

Grade 6, VA:Pr.4.1.6 – Analyze similarities and differences associated with preserving and presenting two-dimensional, three- dimensional, and digital artwork.

Grade 7, VA:Pr.4.1.7 – Compare and contrast how technologies have changed the way artwork is preserved, presented, and experienced.

Grade Hs advanced, VA:Pr5.1.HSIII – Investigate, compare, and contrast methods for preserving and protecting art


 
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For many of you, teaching about restoration might seem daunting. Not only do you have to find a way to fit it into your already jam-packed curriculum, but you also have to make it engaging for students.

Luckily, I asked Miriam Paternoster, a middle school art educator in Mezzolombardo, Italy, to speak about this at the upcoming AOE 2015 Summer Conference. Miriam has worked to restore artwork in some of the most historic cities in the world, including Venice and Florence. She is also the author of the popular blog, Arte a Scuola.

 
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Miriam makes restoration an important part of the concepts she teaches in her art room. Not only does Miriam teach her students about the value and technical aspects of restoration, she also has her students practice “restoring artwork.” Genius, right!?

One example of a student restoration exercise is a colored pencil blending activity that challenges students to fix a ‘damaged’ artwork. Students use short, small pencil marks to attempt to mimic the exact colors found in the piece of artwork in order to ‘restore’ it.
 
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This example just scratches the surface of the information packed into Miriam’s conference presentation. Plus, that’s just ONE of 20+ amazing ten-minute presentations you’ll see on July 16th at the AOE Summer Online Conference.

Go ahead and check out Miriam’s blog Arte a Scuola which won the AOE Secondary Art Ed Blog of the Year Contest last year to learn more about her.
 

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Do you discuss restoration in the art room?

If so, what are some successful learning experiences?

 
 
 

Jessica Balsley is the Founder and President at AOE. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.

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