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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 Elizabeth McKellar explores the central government building in New Delhi built as the Viceroy’s House, which combined both Indian and European architectural traditions.

Dr Judith Jammers discusses how Delacroix combined political realism and Romantic fervour to create what has become the single most familiar image of Revolution.

Dr Renate Dohmen explores the historical contexts and technical marvel of an extraordinary and infamous musical automaton commissioned by Tipu Sultan, the ruler of Mysore in India. Learn more about the work with our teaching resources.

Dr Kim Woods discusses a fascinating brass sculpture from the historic African kingdom of Benin. Learn more about the work with our teaching resources.

Dr Emma Barker explores Caravaggio’s unusual and innovative approach to depicting a story from the Bible. Learn more about the work with additional resources.

Dr Leah Clark explains the role of devotional images for Renaissance viewers by exploring a well-known work by Bellini. Learn more about the work with our teaching resources.

Dr Warren Carter discusses a self-portrait by the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo in which she depicts herself straddling the border between Mexico and the United States. Learn more about the work with our teaching resources.

Dr Xavier Bray discusses two portraits of Prince Baltasar Carlos of Spain.

Dr Veronica Davies examines a catalogue produced for an exhibition of war artists' work at the National Gallery in 1942. Learn more about the work with our teaching resources.

Professor Gill Perry explores an installation by the British artist Cornelia Parker, Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View 1991, which involved blowing up a garden shed and suspending its charred and broken fragments from the ceiling of an art gallery. Learn more about the work with our teaching resources.

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