Since 2016 the department of Art History at the Open University has been working on Open Arts Objects (OAO)a project that provides free open-access films and teaching materials to support the teaching of Art History at A-Level, as well teaching the general public on how to look closely at a wide range of works of art. This project is part of the current strategy within the Open University to develop a series of public-facing initiatives that can help inspire wider and diverse constituencies to enjoy and understand artworks and visual culture.

The OU and Art UK are pleased to announce a new partnership, through which Art UK will share Open Arts Objects films across their site.

A Lady Taking Tea

A Lady Taking Tea 1735

Jean-Baptiste Siméon Chardin (1699–1779)

The Hunterian, University of Glasgow

In short videos on selected objects, hosted on the Open Arts Archive, members of the department showcase their research to the public. The series sheds light on some of the unsolved mysteries of material objects, exploring what is left out of standard art history textbooks. It also teaches viewers how to look closely – a critical tool for Art History.

Prince Baltasar Carlos in Silver

Prince Baltasar Carlos in Silver 1633

Diego Velázquez (1599–1660)

The Wallace Collection

OAO has collaborated with museums across the UK, as a way to bring the museum into the classroom, with expert curators from institutions such as The Wallace Collection and the Victoria and Albert Museum to Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the Ashmolean. The objects explored include paintings, sculpture, prints, ceramics, architecture and design, film and video, and installation and performance art.

La Parisienne

La Parisienne 1874

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841–1919)

Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales

Working closely with A-Level teachers and charity groups, Open Arts Objects films and teaching materials are widely used in schools and museum education and are recommended resources by Pearson, the awarding body for A-Level Art History.

The Supper at Emmaus

The Supper at Emmaus 1601

Caravaggio (1571–1610)

The National Gallery, London

Building on the long history of the department’s public-facing provision of Art History resources, from BBC broadcasts to the Open Arts Archive, Open Arts Objects continues the mission of the Open University: 'be open to people, places, methods and ideas.' Providing free resources is just one of the many ways they are widening participation in Art History.

You can also find accompanying teaching support materials for the films on the Open Arts Archive.

Leah Clark, Senior Lecturer: Art History at The Open University