Gallery Preview: Ancient American Art

Gallery Preview: Ancient American Art

Before your visit to VMFA, introduce your students to the galleries. Let them explore the space and imagine what they can find there!

Pre-Columbian Art
Subject Area:
Fine Arts, Visual Arts
Activity Type:
Gallery Preview

Gallery Preview: Ancient American Art

Take a Look Inside

Spanning approximately 3000 years, VMFA’s Ancient American Art collection includes over 200 ceramic vessels, textiles, sculptures and metalwork objects from Meso, Central, and South America.

Click on the image for a virtual view of VMFA’s Evans Court Gallery where this collection can be found.  Here you can get an idea of the kinds of objects on display in the museum. As you take a look around consider:

  • What kinds of objects do you see?
  • How are they displayed?
  • If you could visit in person, what might you be interested in looking at first?
  • Do any of these objects remind you of topics you are studying? How?

Take a Closer Look: Is This Stuff Real?

Yes!  The objects displayed in these galleries are real examples of art made by Meso, Central, and South American peoples from as early as 1200 BC.  Art like this is the basis for our knowledge about these ancient cultures.  By caring for and studying these objects in museums like VMFA, we are able to connect with the people of the Ancient American world, consider how they understood the world around them, and explore how they visually shared stories and ideas with one another.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be a scholar or an art specialist to take a closer look and begin exploring.  All you need is a little bit of time and some curiosity!

Why Don't You Give it A Try?

Use these simple steps to take a closer look at this object made between 700 and 200 BC.

  • Take a brief look at this object and write down your first impression by finishing this sentence:

This object is… (you can write anything— a single word, a full thought, even a question).

  • Now look back at the image. Keep looking for ten seconds. Write a new sentence.

Now I think this object is… (elaborate on your first idea).

  • Repeat step two. This time finish the following sentence:

I wonder…

  • One more time! This time finish the following sentence:

The artist seems interested in…

Now you’ve looked at this object for at least 30 seconds. Look at your list of sentences. You’ve just connected with an artist from the Chevin culture who made this vessel centuries ago. Click on the image to find out more about this object. What are you still curious about? What new ideas do you have?