How to Talk About Art


Several children look at several paintings in the Trees gallery at Krannert Art Museum. They are standing individually or in pairs looking at oil paintings by European artists of the 17th and 18th centuries.
Krannert Art Museum-Week at the Museum (KAM-WAM) students view art in the Trees Gallery, 2017.
Teacher Resource

The KAM Self-Guide Series encourages talk between parents, teachers, and learners. Guiding questions are included for an interactive understanding of the artworks. They can be read as it is or modified according to your preference, feel free to skip or add more questions to your conversation.

Museum Educators at Krannert Art Museum use Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) to facilitate conversations around art. By asking a few guiding questions, learners are encouraged to identify different characteristics of artworks and construct their own interpretations. Here are some questions you can ask during the first couple of minutes with an artwork: 

  • What is going on in the artwork? 
  • What do you see that makes you say so? 
  • What else do you notice?

As a facilitator of conversations around art, here are some things you can do:

  • Repeat or rephrase what the learners said
  • Point out the learners' observations in the artwork
  • Bridge connections between learners' observations and the artwork

How to encourage children to talk?

  • Provide a few minutes for the children to look at the artworks
  • Start with the visual characteristics such as colors or styles of the artwork
  • Give bits of information as children’s understandings of the artwork develop during the discussion