Science, French and History: it’s not just Art at The Courtauld Gallery

Date Posted: 02/06/2016

School Travel Organiser looks at some of the workshops available to Secondary school pupils inside the art gallery at The Courtauld Institute of Art in London.

The Courtauld Institute of Art is a self-governing college of the University of London that specialises in the study of the history of art and art conservation.

Based in Somerset House on The Strand, the building is also home to The Courtauld Gallery, where numerous educational opportunities are available.

The gallery was started in 1932, and has a number of connections to important figures including the art historian Robert Witt, and art collector Samuel Courtauld (the founder of the institute).

It also houses some important collections of French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, as well as European sculptures and antiques, and 24,000 prints ranging from the late Middle Ages to the 20th century avant-garde.

The gallery welcomes school groups who can access a number of exhibitions and collections, many of which have related educational workshops.

A visit to The Courtauld Gallery can link to History, Art, Science and French, and these subjects can be explored through learning sessions available to Key Stage 3, 4 and 5 students.

For a general introduction to The Courtauld Gallery, teachers can book up to 25 pupils at a time onto a one-hour long gallery talk.

These interactive and exploratory gallery talks can be tailored to fit in to what the class is learning at school.

Students will be introduced to key works from the gallery collection and encouraged to take part in discussion and debate.

Talks can also be tailored to themes like approaches to colour; biblical and mythological narratives; fashion and costume in painting; and Impressionism and Post-Impressionism.

Nature and landscape, portraiture and identity, Courtauld collection highlights, and the human form are also themes that can be tied into a gallery talk.

For teachers who’d like their Art students to take part in a hands-on workshop, there is a two hour long Draw and Tour Gallery Session available.

This workshop is led by an experienced artist-educator who will introduce pupils to a variety of drawing techniques to develop sketch book skills.

The class will investigate different ways of recording, questioning and responding to a chosen theme (these themes are the same as listed for the gallery talk).

Pencils and paper are provided, but pupils should bring their own sketchbooks for these drawing sessions.

Conservation and historical learning

Linking to Science as well as Art is an Art, Science and Conservation workshop. This is a two hour long session for up to 25 students at a time, and it’s suitable for Key Stages 4 and 5.

This workshop will introduce students to conservation, and help them gain an understanding of how paintings are carefully conserved over time.

Students will learn how scientific technology, such as infra-red and x-ray images, can reveal hidden secrets about paintings and give an insight into the materials and methods used by artists in the past.

For those who’d like a History-themed trip, there are two Art History learning sessions: an Art History taster workshop, and another session called Art History in the Classroom.

The taster workshop is available for Key Stages 4 and 5, and is two hours long. As part of this, students are encouraged to develop painting interpretation, research, and discussion and presentation skills through a range of activities led by a trained Art History educator.

This session can follow a gallery visit or an organised talk. Taster workshops are delivered in the gallery or in one of the workshop spaces at The Courtauld.

Meanwhile, the Art History in the Classroom session is suitable for students learning Art and Design at A-level, BTEC and EPQ, and can extend and enrich the Art and Design curricula.

The session will also help develop visual interpretation, research and presentation skills.

The Courtauld Gallery also caters for French classes; booking onto a Regarde! workshop might prove helpful for Key Stage 3, 4 and 5 French students. This workshop can be booked as a one or two hour-long session and is led by a French-speaking educator.

The Regarde! session can include a tour in addition to the workshop itself to help to develop students’ French speaking, listening and writing skills.

As part of this experience, The Courtauld Gallery’s collection of French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works will be used as learning resources to help students learn the French language.

Booking information

All educational sessions at The Courtauld Gallery can be tailored to the group’s learning level and requirements.

Visits including a workshop must be booked at least a month in advance, while self-led visits are free and should be booked two weeks in advance.

Teachers should call 020-7848 1058 or e-mail education@courtauld.ac.uk to make a booking.

For further information visit courtauld.ac.uk/learn.

School Travel Organiser's Guide