How Technology Can Help Teach Art History

We can’t all jet off to Paris to visit the Louvre or to Rome to tour the Vatican and revel in the brilliance of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. For the majority of students, an art history education will take place in libraries and local museums but technology is opening the door a little wider for those students.

Books have always provided students access to images and reproductions of famous pieces of art along with biographies and information on the artist and the techniques used. Students enamored of art history should continue to utilize the printed copies of paintings and sculptures as part of their education, the images present differently on paper than on a screen and can be studied in detail better in a book than online.

Technology, however, allows students to interact with art in new and different ways that print simply doesn’t allow. Websites provide clickable images that take students to more pieces by the same artist or his contemporaries, a biography of the artist, or the historical context of the art. Teachers and students may even stumble across artists they were not aware of before the study began as they explore artists from the same period or style.

Art history students who hope to recreate their favorite pieces can find stop action animation videos demonstrating the techniques and tools of the masters. Students can search for videos of other artists and analyze their techniques and methods in comparison to historical creative processes.

Apps take the interactive art history experience to an entirely different level. Flashcard apps such as Art History 101 help students memorize and match artists to their work as well as the time period during which the artists created. Students can learn the stories behind famous paintings through interactive games and books, such as Van Gogh and the Sunflowers. Art History Interactive takes students on a virtual tour of worldwide art throughout history, allowing students to zoom in on high quality images, read about the story behind the artwork, and compare the piece to art created by contemporaries and followers.

Apps and websites even allow students to take virtual tours of the most famous museums and art galleries in the world. Lourve HD Free not only walks students through the Paris art collection but allows for images to be downloaded for offline viewing. Other apps such as Gallery of Art History’s Greatest Masterpieces provide an art history timeline so students can put favorite works into context versus other master creations.

Technology gives every student and every family access to the most beloved and important pieces of art in the world. It allows students to zoom, explore, and learn about the artists, their individual work, and their contributions to the art world. Great technology gives art history students the background, technique, and restoration work done on each piece. If you can’t visit the Sistine Chapel, you can watch the artists working to restore the paintings. When you can’t travel to see the Mona Lisa in person, you can read the theories surrounding Da Vinci’s inspiration for her enigmatic smile. Technology brings art history home to any student, any time.

For 15 years Mimi Rothschild has been privileged to help hundreds of thousands of homeschoolers educate their children at home. The MorningStar Academy is a private online Christian school offering diplomas and teachers. The Jubilee Academy is an online Christian curriculum provider offering over 150 full year online Christian courses for PreK-12.