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Arts 1304 - Rinck, Jonathan

Netsuke of Two Rats (Okatori, early 19th c.)

Netsuke of Two Rats

Boating (Edouard Manet, 1874)

Boating, 1874 painting by Manet

Searching as Strategic Exploration


Museum Research Assignment

Due: Oct 27

This assignment is designed to acquaint you with one of the major art collections in the United States, and to exercise your skills in descriptive analysis and in conducting research.  In order to fulfill this assignment, you will be required to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art website in order to choose two objects as the focus of your research.  For this assignment you may also, if you choose, visit the McNay Art Museum or the SAMA, and their corresponding websites.  Note that admission is free at both SAMA and the McNay when you show your SAC id. 

1.  Getting started:

Browse the “Collection Highlights” and use the various ‘filters’ to see what cultures and media are represented in the collection.  Start by selecting

  1.  one artwork that engages your interest from one of the following non-Western collections: Asian (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Tibetan, Indian), Near Eastern, Islamic, Oceanic, African or Pre-Columbia (Mixtec, Aztec or Inca only), and

  1. one additional artwork from one of the following galleries: European,

American, or Contemporary.  (You may, if you would like, substitute a work of American or European art from the McNay Museum for this part.) 

A total of two works will be selected, both of which must be from the time period covered in this course, 1300 through present day (use the date/era filters provided by the website, and check date on labels). You may find that the artworks you have chosen are visually appealing to you, or disturbing; you may be familiar with the represented subject matter, or it may be a complete mystery.  In any case select works of art that you think have considerable potential for an in-depth research project. 

  1. Write a short description of each of the objects, including,

  •         a.  an identification of the object (use museum label information),

               b.  a thorough description of the object, which should include the following:                                       

       medium (e.g. bronze sculpture, oil painting, print, etc.), technique (e.g.

       woodcut print, engraving, cast bronze, etc.), method of construction (how

       was it put together?), approximate size, and shape and/or format;


 c. if the work is representational, describe the image in the most basic terms. 

    Do not attempt to interpret iconography at this point; just report what you see.

  1.    Investigate:

Your next task will be to do some brief research.  A library session scheduled for October 27, during our regular class period will help you start your investigation.  

You will be required to consult two (2) scholarly sources to find out more about each of these two objects (four sources total).  A reference librarian and I will assist you in finding these sources during the library session.  These sources may help you find out more about the artist who made the work (if attributed to a known artist), the subject of the artwork, the medium used to make it and/or its particular style (see worksheet).  Do not use your textbook or general encyclopedias.  One (but, only one) of your four sources may be a website (this means a source that exists only as a website), though it must be a legitimate one (the rule of thumb is that it must come from a museum or academic institution and have an author; look for .org or .edu sites.) Your research should help illuminate the work of art for you, bringing new insights to the first-hand observations you made while at the museum.

  4.  Final Museum Paper:

         Your final paper will consist of five pages, organized in the following manner:

  1. A thorough description of object #1. (20%)
  2. Information you learned about object #1 from your research. (25%)
  3. A thorough description of object #2. (20%)
  4. Information you learned about object #2 from your research. (25%)
  5. Works Cited page, containing two properly cited sources for each object (four sources total).  (10%)

You may use the MLA or Turabian citation style.  (Guides to both citation formats are available online: see, or

(NOTE: This is not a single ‘comparative’ essay, so you need not tie the two objects together.)


Your paper will be graded on the thoroughness of your description and research, and your ability to relate secondary information (research information) to first-hand observation.  Your properly cited and complete (four sources) Works Cited page will constitute 10% of your assignment grade.

Museum contact information:

San Antonio Museum of Art

200 W. Jones Ave

San Antonio, TX

(210) 978-8100


Mon. – Closed

Tues & Fri.. - 10 AM – 7 PM

Wed, Thurs, Sat, Sun. – 10 AM – 5 PM

McNay Art Museum

6000 N. New Braunfels

San Antonio, TX

(210) 824-5368

Hours:  Mon. & Tues. – Closed

Wed, Thurs., Fri. - 10 AM – 6 PM

Sat. 10 AM-5PM

Sun. 12-5 PM

Off-campus access

Library databases require a login from off-campus!

  • ACES username is required for login
  • ACES password is your password for login

What does the login page look like?


San Antonio College Library
Located in the Moody Learning Center (MLC), floors 2-4
1819 North Main Avenue., San Antonio, TX 78212
Call us: (210) 486-0570 | Send Email