March 20, 2011

J. Paul Getty Museum Launches New Performing Arts Curriculum for K-12 Teachers

Free Curriculum Gives Teachers New Arts Education Resource in Era of Budget Cuts

LOS ANGELES—The J. Paul Getty Museum today announced the launch of a free new curriculum for K-12 teachers that places creativity front and center in the classroom through visual and performing arts activities. Performing Arts in Art allows teachers to engage students in visual art, performing arts, history, and language arts while meeting statewide and national content standards.

"At a time when Los Angeles schools are facing the biggest cuts to arts education since the 1970s, our Teachers’ Advisory Group encouraged us to develop a curriculum that gives students a chance to engage in the critical thinking, innovation, problem-solving, and creativity that the arts stimulate," says Toby Tannenbaum, assistant director of education at the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Designed for beginning, intermediate, and advanced students, the curriculum focuses on music, storytelling, dance and theater, using objects from the Getty’s permanent collection as the focus of multidisciplinary lessons that address such questions as: How have the roles of performing and visual artists changed over time? How have musicians, dancers, and actors been depicted in art, and what does that reveal about the historical eras in which the work was made? How do works of art convey the nuance of the stories they tell? How do visual artists express movement and drama in their works?

For example, in a music lesson, elementary school students might examine a page from a medieval choir book, discuss how illuminated manuscripts were made and how they were used, compare music written in the Middle Ages to music they hear today, notate the melody for a song using simple shapes, and work in teams to create an illuminated page for a class choir book. Older students might use the depiction of a lyre on an ancient Greek wine cup to explore the role of music in ancient Greece and create and perform a song, poem, or story about ancient Greek education, music or art. Lesson plans provide step-by-step guides and handouts. The curriculum also provides instructions for art-making activities, overhead transparencies of selected works of art, a CD of digital images and multimedia, and print and web resources for deeper exploration. National and state content standards are provided for each level. In addition to meeting national and state content standards for music, dance, theater, and visual arts, some of the lessons also meet English-Language Arts and History-Social Science content standards.

The Getty Museum Education Department has been developing arts-based curricula with the guidance of a Teachers’ Advisory Group since 2002. The curricula are used in countless classrooms throughout the country and are available free of charge online and in hard copy. A recent evaluation of the Getty’s Historical Witness, Social Messaging curriculum, released in 2009, shows that 80 percent of teachers using that curriculum found significant improvement in their students’ social awareness and 75 percent found significant improvement in their understanding of the history and themes explored in the lesson. This curriculum was recently recognized by the EdCom division of the American Association of Museums as the winner of the 2011 Excellence in Published Resources Award.

"We hear from teachers that it’s a real challenge to enliven classrooms while at the same time meet the requirements of standardized testing," says Tannenbaum. "They really appreciate curricula that fit in with their existing lesson plans and the mandates they have from the districts and at the same time allows students to sing, dance, make art, and broaden their thinking beyond the standardized test."

Performing Arts in Art is available online now at

Image at top: Decorated Initial P, late 15th or early 16th century. Antonio da Monza (Italian, active about 14801505). Tempera colors, gold leaf, and ink on parchment. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Ms. Ludwig VI 3, fol. 60v.

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Julie Jaskol
Getty Communications
(310) 440-7607

About the Getty:

The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that features the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Getty Research Institute. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu.

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