Grades/Level: Lower Elementary (K–2), Upper Elementary (3–5), Middle School (6–8), High School (9–12)
Subjects: Visual Arts, English–Language Arts, History–Social Science, Science, Mathematics
Time Required: Short Activity
1 to 1 1/2 hours
Author: J. Paul Getty Museum Education Staff

Activity Overview

You can create your own lesson for your visit to the Getty Villa. Use the collection of ancient art at the Getty Villa to teach subjects you are already covering in your classroom. Below are some tips on teaching in the Museum and engaging your students with art objects.

Learning Objectives

Students should be able to:
• make specific connections between works of art and the theme and/or topic you choose.

Add other learning objectives to match your specific goals for this lesson.


• Using this Web site, choose works of art from the Getty's collection to focus on during your visit. Getty Bookmarks can help you save and retrieve information about the artworks online. You can also choose objects during your Teacher Orientation Workshop.
• Various materials to create activity sheets for your students
• Map of the Museum at the the Getty Villa
• Itinerary sheet

Activity Steps

Step 1: Select a theme from ancient history and art

Stories in Art—quest stories (Trojan War, The Odyssey), love stories (Venus and Adonis, Perseus and Andromeda), tales of retribution (Niobe, Medusa)

Mythological Heroes—Hercules, Achilles

People—portraits, daily life, children, families

Animals/Creatures—composite creatures, symbolic animals

Nature/Environments—landscape, weather, plants, habitats, architecture, interiors

Time Period/Culture—Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, Etruscan civilization

Elements of Art—color, line, shape, texture, form, positive and negative space

Mediums/Techniques—sculpture, vase painting, mosaics, glass, bronze working, conservation

Step 2: Pick galleries or artworks.
Pick a limited number of galleries or artworks for students to visit during a 1 or 1 1/2 hour period. Use the Itinerary Sheet to schedule a rotation of chaperoned groups of students.

Use Getty Bookmarks to collect and save a list of objects on our Web site.

Step 3: Plan activities.
Students should do one activity per gallery, or at each selected artwork, with their teacher or chaperone.
• Choose artworks for your students to explore from different parts of the collection. Consider using the architecture and gardens in addition to works in the galleries.

• Try varying the format at each stop. Have students work alone, in pairs, or as a group.

• Challenge students with different types of activities at each artwork. Ask students to:
- do creative, critical, or analytical writing.
- sketch from an artwork, looking carefully at the details.
- work in pairs to compare artworks, noting their similarities and differences.
- divide into two groups and hold a debate (for example: each side looks at a work of art and takes a position based on visual evidence).

• Create a workbook for your students and chaperones. Include instructions for your chaperones so they can facilitate a successful activity at each stop.

Assess your students' work based on the activities and objectives you develop for each activity.

Standards Addressed

Align your lesson with California State Content Standards. These will vary depending on your objectives and activities.