Museum Sessions For University Courses

Each academic year, area colleges and approximately 400 Cornell University courses from more than 50 departments and programs organize and develop Museum sessions with the Johnson’s educational and curatorial staff. In addition to focusing on current exhibitions, we design and lead sessions using works of art from our global collection spanning six thousand years, six continents, and more than 35,000 objects.

Museum sessions are held Tuesdays to Fridays from 10 AM to 5 PM (special arrangements can be made for classes that meet only on Mondays or outside of regular hours). Due to high demand, it is recommended that you contact the Museum before the semester begins, and at least three weeks’ notice is required. Requests made with shorter notice cannot be guaranteed. Sessions are scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis and free to University classes.

Contact Leah Sweet, Mellon Curatorial Coordinator for Academic Programs, for further information and to set up an initial meeting. Please include:

  • Department and title of course
  • Copy of syllabus
  • Number of students and TAs
  • Preferred dates and times for Museum session

In the initial meeting, we will establish objectives, a plan for the Museum session, and a set of artworks to study. A maximum of twelve (12) objects not currently on view can be requested, and there may be restrictions based on size and availability. 

There are six separate spaces available to visiting classes: a study gallery classroom; a 150-seat lecture room that can be divided into two large classrooms; the visible storage gallery (a hybrid gallery and classroom space); the Rona Hollander Citrin ’80 and Jeffrey Citrin Photography Center; and the Maria and Donald Cox Studio.

Semester-Long Courses

Each semester, the Johnson Museum serves as a classroom on a weekly basis for courses that use objects from the collection. To learn more about collaborating with the Museum during a full semester, please contact Cathy Klimaszewski, Associate Director and the Harriett Ames Charitable Trust Curator of Education.

For instructors of these courses, please observe the following guidelines:

  • Objects must be requested no less than two weeks ahead of the class meeting, and this list of objects (with accession numbers) must be emailed to Cathy Klimaszewski or Leah Sweet
  • There is a limit of twelve (12) works per class unless Museum curatorial permission is granted, and there may be other restrictions based on size and availability.
  • A staff member or curatorial Museum intern must be present with the works at all times, and unless curatorial permission is granted, the staff member or intern will handle all objects. 
  • Any special set up or AV requests must also be made at least one week prior to the class.

Mellon Course Proposals 2015-2018

The Johnson Museum of Art seeks proposals from Cornell faculty interested in developing innovative, collections-based courses to be cotaught with Museum staff. Beginning in Spring 2014, curriculum development grants of $1,500 will be available to faculty who wish to partner with Museum staff to develop and teach new interdisciplinary courses. One course will be offered each semester, beginning in Fall 2015 and continuing through Spring 2018. 

Download the complete call for proposals here. Read more about the Museum’s “Connecting Research with Practice” initiative, funded by a Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant, here.

Study Gallery Installations

Small course-related installations in the study gallery can be requested for a period of up to two weeks to allow for extended viewing and research by students. Preferably, one semester advance notice is required to organize study gallery installations. Requests are met on a first-come, first-served basis. Please contact Cathy Klimaszewski or Leah Sweet for details. Recent study gallery installations and instructors have included:

Spring 2014

  • Society for the Humanities, Architecture, African Studies and Research Center (SHUM, ARCH, ASRC 6819), “Home and the World,” Professors Mary Woods and Noliwe Rooks
  • Department of English (ENGL 6640), “American Literature and the Civil War,” Professor Shirley Samuels

Fall 2014

  • Department of English (ENGL 1158: FWS), “American Voices,” Professor Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon
  • Department of History of Art and Visual Studies (ARTH 4154/6154), “Feminism, Postfeminism, Cyberfeminism,” Professor Maria Fernandez
  • Department of History of Art and Visual Studies (ARTH 6015), “Photography and the Archive,” Professor Cheryl Finley
  • Department of English (ENGL 2675), “Cultures of the Cold War,” Associate Professor Jeremy Braddock
  • Department of Natural Resources (NTRES 3330), “Indigenous Ways of Knowing Tress and Other Ramifications,” Professor Karim-Aly Kassam
  • Department of History of Art and Visual Studies (ARTH 1149), “The Politicized Image in East and Southeast Asia,” Pamela Corey, PhD candidate
  • Department of History of Art and Visual Studies (ARTH 2400), “Introduction to Art History: Renaissance and Baroque,” Professor Claudia Lazzaro

Independent Research

Appointments to view works of art for scholarly purposes can be arranged by contacting the collection curators:
Ellen Avril: Asian art
Nancy Green: European and American prints and drawings, 1800–1945; decorative art
Andrea Inselmann: Modern and contemporary art, and photography
Andy Weislogel: European art before 1800; other areas of the collection

You can search our collections online, and access to object files, archival material, and other primary resources related to the collections can be arranged by contacting Sonja Gandert, curatorial assistant. 

Visible storage gallery: More than one thousand works of art from the African, pre-Columbian, Asian, and decorative arts collections are on view on Floor 2L. 

Pedagogical Workshops for Faculty

Museum staff are eager to work with faculty to explore new ways to use the collection. These pedagogical workshops include an introduction to the collections and Museum resources; techniques and strategies for teaching with original works of art; and how to develop and schedule Museum sessions for courses across the disciplines. Please contact Leah Sweet for details. 

Visiting Artist and Speaker Program

The visiting artist and speaker program brings artists to campus for lectures, studio visits, and discussions with students and faculty, often in connection with exhibitions. These visits, along with other lectures and gallery talks by distinguished curators, specialists, and art historians, are posted in the calendar section.

Previous artists and speakers include Maryan Ainsworth, Michael Arad, Xu Bing, Willie Cole, Andy Goldsworthy, Mike Hearn, Faye Hirsch, Klaus Kertess, Maya Lin, Sally Mann, John A. Pinto, Susan Rothenberg, Andres Serrano, Storm Tharp, Leo Villareal, Carrie Mae Weems, and Martie Young, among many others. 

Faculty Advisory Committee

Faculty members from a variety of disciplines serve on the committee and interact with Museum staff to generate new ideas about how the Museum can be an even more effective learning resource on campus. For more information, please contact Cathy Klimaszewski.

Faculty Advisory Committee 2015–16

Michael Ashkin
Associate Professor and Department Chair, Department of Art

Xak Bjerken
Professor, Department of Music

David Faulkner
Director of First-Year Writing Seminars, John S. Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines and English

Geri Gay
Kenneth J. Bissett Professor of Communication and Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow

Denise Green
Assistant Professor and Director of the Cornell Costume and Textile Collection, Department of Fiber Science and Apparel Design

Salah Hassan
Goldwin Smith Professor of African and African Diaspora Art History and Visual Culture, Africana Studies and Research Center and the Department of the History of Art and Visual Studies

Cynthia Hazan
Associate Professor, Department of Human Development

John Henderson
Professor, Department of Anthropology

Kent L. Hubbell
Robert W. and Elizabeth C. Staley Dean of Students/ Professor, Department of Architecture

C. Richard Johnson, Jr.
Geoffrey S. M. Hedrick Senior Professor of Engineering and Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow

Cynthia Robinson
Professor and Department Chair, Department of History of Art and Visual Studies

Wolfgang H. Sachse
Meinig Family Professor of Engineering

Daniel R. Schwarz
Frederic J. Whiton Professor of English Literature and Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow

Shawkat Toorawa
Associate Professor, Near Eastern Studies

Michael Tomlan
Professor, Historic Preservation Planning Director, Department of City and Regional Planning

Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon
Associate Professor, Department of English

Mary Woods*
Professor, College of Architecture, Art, and Planning

* = on sabbatical