Westover has its own history of Art History: it's been part of our curriculum since 1913, four years after Westover opened in 1909. Furthermore, Theodate Pope Riddle, architect of Westover and one of America's first successful female architects, was a friend of noted impressionist painter Mary Cassatt.
Every student at Westover studies Art History for at least one trimester - not a typical requirement at the high school level. Each trimester we offer electives art history courses in concentrated areas like “Italian Renaissance Art” or “Women in the Arts”, as well as Humanities courses, which combine a thematic or period study of art history and music in courses like “The Romantic Spirit” or “Nature in the Arts.” In addition, we offer a year-long study in Advanced Placement Art History that build upon college survey courses.
Why such an emphasis on Art History? Art History offers students a unique opportunity to examine the past through a variety of different lenses – from social, political, or psychological angles, to more theoretical perspectives including formalist or feminist views. In addition, by encouraging students to feel comfortable and confident in looking at art, the visual literacy students build not only enables them to engage with what they see, but also hones their analytical skills as well as they learn to consider how a work of art produces meaning.
Technology at Westover enhances each student’s experience of art history from digital technology in slide viewing, to image and academic article databases, to interactive on-line discussions. What's more, every term, each art history or humanities course goes on a relevant field trip to museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Frick Collection, Dia:Beacon, the Wadsworth, or the Yale British Center for the Arts, among others, or to the theaters like Lincoln Center, for example, to hear musical concerts .
The Sonja Osborn Museum Studies Internship enables a junior or senior to broaden and enrich her dedication to Art History through practical experience in museum work. The program draws on the strengths of two Connecticut institutions, Westover School and Hill-Stead Museum, both of which share a common heritage of celebrating women who possess a strong commitment to and passion for the arts.
The museum studies internship consists of a multi-part program that each student develops in conjunction with Westover’s Art History teacher Ali Hildebrand and Hill-Stead staff members, based on the museum’s needs and the student’s interests. Each week, the student will travel to Hill-Stead where she’ll work with museum curators assisting in educational or public programs, working in collection management, and engaging in research or conservation of the collection. At the conclusion of the internship, the student will present her experience interning at the museum through two focused projects that investigate Hill-Stead’s collection and consider the shared histories of the school and the museum. This internship will help students gain work experience, learn about museum studies, and build her resume in this field for both her college applications and her career. Interns receive both a stipend for their work at the museum as well as academic credit.