Lessons in art history

Giovanna Vitelli Flinders
Dr Giovanna Vitelli, director of the Ashmolean Museum’s University Engagement Programme, speaking at Flinders University today.

The University of Oxford Ashmolean Museum is using its world-leading collection of antiquities to enrich the university’s academic programs – and Flinders is looking to follow this lead.

The Ashmolean Museum’s University Engagement Program director Dr Giovanna Vitelli today explained the program to more than 100 teachers, students and art curators at a workshop at Flinders Library.

Dr Vitelli highlighted how articles from the Ashmolean’s rich collection of art and objects have been used in more than 40,000 interactions with up to 25 courses and accessed by hundreds of academics and students at Oxford University since the engagement program commenced in 2012.

The Ashmolean program’s teaching curators have used the academic resources to support courses – from archaeology and history of art through to literature, geography, plant sciences and even cardiology.

The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology was founded in 1683 as a scientific research and educational institution centred on a collection of “rare and curious objects”.

Fiona Salmon, the director of Flinders University’s Art Museum, says the visit generated a lot of interest.

“Giovanna’s visit is being used as a way to start a conversation at Flinders about how to harness the extraordinary collection of more than 6,500 objects in our care for teaching, learning and research, not just in the fields of visual and creative arts but more broadly across humanities, sciences and other disciplines,” Ms Salmon says.

Penumbral Tales, the latest exhibition at the Flinders University City Gallery (until 20 September as part of the 2015 South Australian Living Artists Festival), combines historical works from the Flinders collection with contemporary photography.

“It’s a good example of how collections can speak across time and space,” says Ms Salmon.

The Flinders University Art Museum is based at the Bedford Park campus, and the City Gallery is at the State Library of South Australia in Adelaide.

Take a behind-the-scenes look at the Ashmolean at this video link.

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