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Open Arts Objects

Open Arts Objects (OAO) is an open access platform which provides free films to support the teaching of Art History.

Watch this short film outlining the Open Arts Objects project

Open Arts Objects:

  • inspires wider and diverse audiences to enjoy and understand art works and visual culture, leading to a change in museums’ educational programmes and professional practice, and has increased public awareness about a global approach to Art History.
  • supports teachers by providing free open access materials including films, activities for students, and teaching support documents. OAO films are a recommended resources for the new A-level Curriculum by Pearson, covering the themes of Identities, Nature, and War, but they can also be easily adapted to the Cambridge Pre-U. They are an ideal resource for any teacher who incorporates art and design into their teaching.
  • underpinned by the research of members of the Art History department at the Open University, OAO promotes the understanding of art informed by the innovative methodologies of mobility and global approaches.
  • emboldens communities, regional groups, school children, teachers, and OU students with art historical skills, with a mandate to widen participation in Art History.
  • ensures the sustainability of Art History at all teaching levels, advocating for the democratisation of the subject and the decolonisation of the curriculum, and promotes educational opportunity.

We need your help! Our funding and support depends on feedback from you. Please take a few minutes to fill out this very short survey (6 questions, approx. 4 minutes). If you’d like us to visit your school or community group, get in touch: openartsobjects@open.ac.uk.

Partake in our Facebook group and check us out on Instagram and twitter (where every Monday when we post an interesting object/work of art at the start of every week for #materialmondays).

In 2017-18 members of the Open Arts Objects team served as academic consultants for the 9-part BBC series Civilisations produced in partnership with the OU, reaching over 13.7 million viewers. In 2019 OAO was short-listed for the Times Higher Education Awards in the category of Knowledge Exchange/Transfer Initiative of the Year.

Professor Gill Perry explores House - a sculptural installation made by British artist Rachel Whiteread in 1993 and commissioned by the arts charity Artangel.

Sarah Couslon, curator at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, discusses how Hanging Trees addresses issues of borders, land rights and the natural environment.

Dr Anne Pritchard considers how Renoir used a sumptuous blue dress to bring the nineteenth-century Paris art world face to face with modernity.

Susanna Brown, curator of Photographs at the V&A, discusses striking blue nature studies by Anna Atkins, one of the world's first female photographers. Learn more about the work with additional resources.

Dr Susie West explore a Victorian parterre, a 1680s sundial and a monumental altar of 1748, part of 300 years of design in the garden.

In this film, Dr Clare Taylor looks at a work made by a living artist who works in London, Yinka Shonibare. The subject, materials and sites she talks about all encourage viewers to think of their own individual, national and global identity in new ways. Learn more about the work with our teaching resources.

Catherine Troiano, curator at the V&A, discusses a pair of photographs of a Sycamore tree by Henry Irving, which highlight photography’s role in both science and art.

Dr Leon Wainwright tackles the issue of meaning and experience around a contemporary artwork by the New Delhi-based artist Sonia Khurana.

Dr Leah Clark discusses the function of female profile portraits, a genre that was popular in fifteenth-century Italy. Learn more about the work with our teaching resources.

Dr Leah Clark reveals the complexities of a small devotional diptych made for the collections of Eleonora d’Aragona, the Duchess of Ferrara. Learn more about the work with our teaching resources.

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