Search #ObjectLabWCMA on Instagram to see how Williams classes are using Object Lab.

Object Lab is a hybrid gallery-classroom and a responsive pedagogical platform. Faculty across academic divisions collaborate with museum staff to select works of art that employ, convey, or investigate key course concepts. These works of art are installed in the gallery for the semester, offering students and faculty extended access to the art.

Geosciences 214 Mastering GIS

“I’m sure this is the first time that a GIS class is thinking about art in this way.” – José Constantine,  Professor of Geosciences

When Professor José Constantine began diving into WCMA’s collection in preparation for Object Lab, he began thinking about the connections between artistic choice and the work his students would be doing with the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software. GIS displays data related to positions on Earth’s surface to help solve environmental problems; use of scale, color, and shape in these data-driven visual models impact the efficacy of the stories they tell. Professor Constantine was particularly drawn to the work of artist Lordy Rodriguez and chose to include his conceptual map Territory State in Object Lab. Constantine reached out to the artist and the two found surprising connections between their work. Rodriguez, who had actually taken a GIS course, draws heavily on cartography; his work is inspired by the maps his parents used to navigate the country during road trips. Constantine and Rodriguez will lead a special class session in the gallery and collaborate on a public talk about the intersections of science and art.

Object Lab, spring 2016, Biology 220.

Object Lab, spring 2016, Biology 220.

Biology 220 Field Botany and Plant Natural History

Professor Joan Edwards encouraged her Field Botany students to closely study a work of art and describe what they see, paying particular attention to the botanical details. Students then revisited their work after they have examined the plant in the lab and perhaps its natural environment as well. The short papers they wrote reveal how their ways of viewing the plant and the art have changed.

Rashida Braggs, AFR 323 Comic Lives: Graphic Novels & Dangerous Histories of the African Diaspora in Object Lab.

Professor Rashida Braggs with her class, AFR 323 Comic Lives: Graphic Novels & Dangerous Histories of the African Diaspora in Object Lab.

AFR 323 Comic Lives: Graphic Novels & Dangerous Histories of the African Diaspora

Professor Rashida Braggs of Africana Studies used Thomas Nast’s preliminary sketches in tandem with Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Students created designs incorporating text from the book. They also wrote short response papers looking at works of art through the lens of representing ethnic trauma.

Contact Elizabeth Gallerani to learn more.

Spring 2018 Courses

AFR 323, Comic Lives: Graphic Novels & Dangerous Histories of the African Diaspora (Rashida K. Braggs)

ARTH 438, Ambrotypes to Instagram: Photography and the Human Portrait (Catherine N. Howe)

COMP 242, Americans Abroad (Soledad Fox)

ENGL 346, Negative Affects in African American Literature (Ianna Hawkins Owen)

GEOS 214, Mastering GIS (José Constantine)

LATS 224, U.S. Latinx Religions (Jacqueline Hidalgo)

PSCI 337, Visual Politics (Mark Reinhardt)

RLSP 308, The Subject of Empire: Race, Gender and Power in the Colonial Era (Jennifer French)

STAT 442, Computational Statistics and Data Mining (Brianna Heggeseth)


Sample Assignments

COMP 354: Write a brief museum label in which you mediate on the idea of innocence in relationship to the artwork. Drawing on our readings and discussions in class, the word innocence has multiple meanings and layers. Feel free to choose whichever meaning of the term you like to engage the artwork.

CHEM 336: Write a 2-3 page paper comparing and contrasting at least two objects in the exhibit that are made of the same material and a third newer material that has been recently developed. You will need to include a comparison of the objects with materials, observation, historical significance, uses or artistic intentions, and a description of how the newer technology fits in with today’s society.

ARTH 104: Sketch and write at least five sentences describing your impression of each object (one per week) and how you imagine they might have been used in their original contexts.


Fall 2018 Proposal Form

Submit by Friday, April 13, 2018
  • How do you envision using objects to help enrich your teaching? Liz Gallerani will work with you to identify works from the WCMA collection that support your goals. If you have specific ideas, feel free to list them here. You can search our collection online.
  • What are some ways you imagine linking these objects to your course concepts, assignments, and projects?