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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.

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.

Dr Emma Barker discusses an eighteenth-century painting of a lady having a cup of a drink newly fashionable at the time – tea. Learn more about the work with our teaching resources.

Dr Angeliki Lymberopoulou examines a Cretan panel painting (icon), produced on the island during the period it was under Venetian domination, that copies the work of a famous Cretan master, Michael Damaskinos.

Dr Amy Charlesworth explores the form and content of American artist Martha Rosler's postcard novels from the late 1970s through the lens of what has become known as 'feminist art histories'. Learn more about the work with our teaching resources.

Professor Elizabeth McKellar explores Walton Hall, a classical country house, that now forms the centre of The Open University campus at Milton Keynes.

Dr Susie West takes a look at the small medieval church of St Michael and its new life on a university campus.

Dr Kathleen Christian discusses the history of the ancient statue ‘the Laocoön group' and its excavation in the Renaissance. Learn more about the work with additional resources.

Dr Clare Taylor explores the design and purpose of this wallpaper whose pattern and colours were inspired by the new movements of the 1960s. Learn more about the work with our teaching resources.

In this short film Dr Leah R Clark explores a Renaissance plaquette, which copies an image of Apollo and Marsyas from an ancient gem. Learn more about the work with our teaching resources.