Teaching & Research

A woman with dark hair gestures to a small group as if emphasizing a point in a gallery talk.

Academic and Public Programs

The Harvard Art Museums are dedicated to creating transformative teaching and learning experiences for students, faculty, and the public. The museums’ comprehensive collections are put to work as vital teaching instruments that enhance critical thinking.

All of the museums’ spaces have been designed to facilitate teaching and learning through art. With innovative programs tailored to diverse audiences, the museums are a site for all to convene and discover the power of object-based learning.

A young man in a green shirt looks closely at a framed object temporarily mounted on a study center wall.

Art Study Center

Unique in size and scope among North American museums, the expansive Art Study Center allows visitors to request objects not currently on display in the galleries, facilitating self-directed teaching and learning from works in all media. Housed under the glass rooftop addition, this space receives controlled natural light—ideal for the kind of close looking that happens here.

A young woman tapes a wet screen print to a drying line in the Materials Lab while other students work in the background.

Materials Lab

The Materials Lab (M/Lab) serves as an environment for art making as a means of learning and knowing. M/Lab programs explore the complex physical lives of artworks through close-looking, hands-on experimentation and interaction with experts.

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Curatorial Divisions

Together, the Divisions of Asian and Mediterranean Art, European and American Art, and Modern and Contemporary Art oversee and interpret the vast collections of the Harvard Art Museums. To care for these collections—approximately 250,000 objects from across the world and spanning thousands of years and all media—curatorial divisions are organized along geographic and chronological lines.

Conservators work on a frame and a portrait of Benjamin Franklin.

Research Centers

Research is at the heart of the Harvard Art Museums’ efforts to preserve, document, present, interpret, and strengthen the collections and resources in their care. The museums’ three research centers—the Archaeological Exploration of Sardis, Harvard Art Museums Archives, and Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies—advance the understanding of, and the care for, artwork, artists’ materials, and cultural heritage.

A screenshot capturing a portion of object results from the Harvard Art Museums collections search interface.

Image Licensing

The Harvard Art Museums encourage the use of images found on this website for personal, noncommercial use, including educational and scholarly purposes.