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Academic and Public Programs

Public Programs

Though the Harvard Art Museums remain closed for now, we warmly invite you to engage with our collections, exhibitions, students, and staff through a dynamic series of online programs. Please see below for details about our virtual offerings. You can also visit our calendar to learn more and sign up for our newsletter to receive weekly updates about what’s coming up next.

Virtual Student Guide Tours

Join us live on Zoom for virtual Student Guide Tours! These interactive tours, designed and led by Harvard undergraduates from a range of academic disciplines, focus on objects chosen by each Student Guide and provide a unique, thematic view into our collections.

The free, 30-minute tours are offered on Thursdays at 8pm and Saturdays at 11am through the fall term. Though topics may repeat, each tour is unique, with content adapted to the questions and interests of tour participants.

Please follow the links below for details about upcoming tours:

• Thursday, November 5 at 8pm ET
The Blue Tour, with Adam Sella ‘22

• Saturday, November 7 at 11am ET
The Bind of Beauty: Nature, Art, and Femininity, with Sophia Mautz ‘21

• Thursday, November 12 at 8pm ET
Intimacy with Art, with Maeve Miller ‘22

• Saturday, November 14 at 11am ET
Seeing the Light, with Alexis Boo ‘22

• Thursday, November 19 at 8pm ET
The Art of Pleasure, with Felipe Muñoz ‘22

• Saturday, November 21 at 11am ET
Art in Exile, with Vlad Batagui ‘21

• Thursday, December 3 at 8pm ET
The Bind of Beauty: Nature, Art, and Femininity, with Sophia Mautz ‘21

• Saturday, December 5th at 11am ET
Transcendence–A Guide to How to Escape Your Current Reality, with Franklin Hang ‘21

The Ho Family Student Guide Program at the Harvard Art Museums prepares students to develop original, research-based tours of the collections. Participants come from a wide range of backgrounds, including history of art and architecture, the sciences, literature, philosophy, and government. Through their training, Student Guides gain knowledge of the collections and develop skills in critical thinking, visual analysis, public speaking, and leadership. This program is supported by the Ho Family Student Guide Fund.

Want more from our Student Guides? For Guide Chat videos, Student Artist Spotlights, and more, follow the Student Guides on Instagram @harvardarthappens and Facebook @HoStudentGuides.

Interested in arranging a special tour for your group or in collaborating on a project? Contact Camran Mani, Cunningham Fellow in Academic and Public Programs, at

Art Study Center Seminars at Home

Our monthly Art Study Center Seminars give visitors a chance to look closely at original works of art and discuss new research with curators, conservators, fellows, and special guests. Topics, which range from ancient Chinese gold to revolutionary Mexican prints, highlight the depth of the Harvard Art Museums collections and the dynamic research interests of our staff.

Since we are unable to welcome you into the museums at this time, we are bringing our experts to you in a new online series, Art Study Center Seminars at Home. Topics for the fall term include:

• Friday, September 25 at 11am ET
Plastics in the Collections

• Friday, October 3 at 11am ET
Obsession and Labor—Albert Moore’s Singular Painting Techniques

• Friday, October 30 at 11am ET
Photographer Larry Cook in conversation with curator Makeda Best

• Friday, November 20 at 11am ET
Finding Solace in Rituals

• Friday, December 4 at 11am ET
Chinese Gold from the Winthrop Collection

These monthly seminars take place live on Zoom on Fridays at 11am; no previous knowledge is required. Please visit our calendar for more details and the links to register for upcoming seminars.

Art Talks Live

Art Talks Live offer an up-close look at works from our collections with our team of curators, conservators, fellows, and graduate students. These short talks—along with our Art Talks video series—investigate artists’ materials and techniques, reveal our latest discoveries, offer a fresh look at old favorites, and explore big ideas using the collections of the Harvard Art Museums.

This fall, join us on Zoom to explore “power dynamics” across the collections. In this series, our curatorial team will consider intersections of art and power, discussing how artists engage with social and political crises, use art to upset systems of power, and imagine more equitable futures.

Art Talks Live are presented via Zoom every other Thursday afternoon at 2pm. Please visit our calendar for information about upcoming talks and to access the links to join; no pre-registration required.

Materials Lab at Home

Make art at home taking inspiration from select artworks in the collections of the Harvard Art Museums with the Materials Lab at Home! This series of prompts is designed by the Materials Lab to encourage you to experiment with artistic processes using materials and implements found around the house. Activities are suitable for art-makers of all ages.

Painting Edo at the Arnold Arboretum

Painting Edo at the Arnold Arboretum is a collaboration between the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University and the Harvard Art Museums, inspired by the exhibition Painting Edo: Japanese Art from the Feinberg Collection. Observing artworks from the exhibition alongside the living collections of the Arnold Arboretum, we invite you to marvel at the remarkable accuracy with which artists of the Edo period (1615–1868) in Japan rendered their botanical subjects.

• Discover magnolia sieboldii with Ned Friedman and Rachel Saunders
• Explore bonsai with Steve Schneider
• Discover hydrangeas with Rachel Saunders and Michael Dosmann

Stay tuned for more Painting Edo at the Arnold Arboretum! In the meantime, the Arnold Arboretum is free to visit and open every day from sunrise to sunset.

Creature Features

Creature Feature, a new online series from the Harvard Art Museums, offers a chance for families to explore magical creatures across the collections through close-looking and curious exploration with museum staff. Join us this fall to discover merpeople, fantastic beings by Michelangelo, and animals from ancient Egypt!

Creature Feature talks are free, open to all curious explorers ages 6 and up, and offered once a month on Saturdays at 10am on Zoom. Please check our calendar for news of upcoming Creature Features.

Partnership Programs

Using collections as a catalyst for close-looking and conversation, the Division of Academic and Public Programs works with partners on campus, in our community, and beyond to spearhead transdisciplinary conversations about the role of art, art museums, and arts education in contemporary society.

Learning to See: Art, Medical Imaging, and Project Success

How can looking at art help high school students envision a future for themselves in medicine? This program explored a recent collaboration with Project Success for High School Students, a summer school program at Harvard Medical School that offers 11th and 12th graders from Boston and Cambridge an opportunity to explore professional pathways in the biomedical field. Panelists, including two of this year’s high school students, discuss how looking at art can help develop key observation, description, and interpretation skills required to critically analyze medical images and improve patient care.

Presented in collaboration with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School’s Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Partnership.

Voting, Activism, and Art

The 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage and the upcoming presidential election have brought voting rights to the forefront of American politics in 2020 and have prompted important questions about legacies of disenfranchisement, especially for people of color in the United States.

This program examines works from the collections at the Harvard Art Museums and Houghton Library that offer a lens on voting rights in the United States in the 20th century. Through close looking at individual artworks in various media, speakers discussed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, barriers to enfranchisement for people of color, and the role of art in advancing equality.

Presented in collaboration with the Women and Public Policy Program at the Harvard Kennedy School, Houghton Library, and the Harvard Votes Challenge.

Texts in Transition

The Harvard Art Museums collections play an important role in the popular undergraduate course Texts in Transition, co-taught by history professor Ann Blair and English professor Leah Whittington, as part of the Harvard College Program in General Education.

In this conversation, professors Blair and Whittington discuss this ongoing collaboration with Laura Muir and Jen Thum of the Harvard Art Museums. Together, they explore the role that close examination—in person and virtual—of a diverse array of objects plays in helping students consider how texts have traveled through time and across media, as well as the ways in which these objects capture, transmit, and preserve human experiences.

“Introduction to Composition” at the Harvard Art Museums

Students from Professor Yvette Jackson’s “Introduction to Composition” will produce original compositions inspired by works of art from the collections of the Harvard Art Museums. Each composition will be performed by the Parker Quartet and premiered in online concert.

Presented in collaboration with the Harvard University Department of Music and the Parker Quartet.

Please also visit the Harvard Art Museums from Home page for a rich array of digital content on offer while the museums are closed. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to receive regular updates!

For instructions on how to join a meeting in Zoom, please click here. You can find links to view recordings of select past programs on our Vimeo channel.

Did you know? You can use our online calendar to generate reminders about upcoming programs! Simply click the small, gray calendar icon located just below the title of each event to download an appointment that you can save to your own calendar.

If you have any questions about upcoming programs, please contact

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    Photo: Caitlin Cunningham.

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    Photo: Tim Correira Photography.

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    Photo: Danny Hoshino.

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