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Open Arts Objects

Open Arts Objects (OAO) is an open access platform which provides over 50 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.

An Van Camp (Curator of Northern European Art) discussing Jan van Kessel, Decorative Still-Life Composition with a Porcelain Bowl, Fruit and Insects, 17th century, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

Kathleen Christian discussing Michelangelo’s Pietà, 1498-99, St. Peter’s, Rome.

Colin Harrison, Senior Curator of Western Art at the Ashmolean discusses Constable’s painting of Willie Lott’s House and the changes to the English landscape during an age of Industrialisation. Learn more about the work with additional resources.

Clare Pollard, Curator of Japanese Art at the Ashmolean discusses a print by Hiroshige, revealing how the artist’s use of colour and composition provides a striking depiction of figures being caught in a rainstorm. Learn more about the work with additional resources.

Clare Pollard, Curator of Japanese Art at the Ashmolean brings to life a Japanese scroll, and what it reveals about the lives of courtesans in nineteenth-century Japan. Learn more about the work with additional resources.

Catherine Whistler (Keeper of Western Art) discusses a curious work likely by Michelangelo Buonarroti of The Holy Family with Saint John the Baptist from the sixteenth century and now in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Learn more about the work with additional resources.

Susanna Brown, curator of Photographs at the V&A, discusses Beaton’s portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on her coronation day. Learn more about the work with additional resources.

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.