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Faculty Resources

University Museums is foremost an educational resource for Iowa State University students, faculty, and staff. One of the four main goals of the museum is to, “Create vital partnerships within Iowa State University to enhance higher education by exploring creative interactions in arts, sciences and technology.” The Visual Literacy Program offers a number of resources to faculty for the integration of visual literacy into any university course curriculum. The University Museums staff is flexible and dedicated to sharing the University Museums’ vast collection with the Iowa State community and has developed a unique array of offerings, both digital and in-person, for faculty to encourage access and engagement with the visual arts.


Curriculum Program Options

University Museums’ staff understands that each class is different with unique sets of learning objectives and curricula, therefore a range of options is provided when scheduling a program. To schedule a program, review the below options and fill in the tour request form indicating preferences. For questions about program offerings or scheduling, email

Visual Literacy Exploration and Guided Looking Session: At the most frequent type of tour requested, these programs introduce classes to the concept of visual literacy and walk students through looking closely and deeply at a work of art to draw out interpretations. Using the public art collection and current exhibitions, these programs model the critical thinking skills needed to read visual content effectively and encourage students to think about how this can be applied to their course material and day to day life.

Customized Visual Literacy Program: When faculty have specific course content that they would like to connect to works of art in the collection, museum staff can design a unique program for an individual course. Using exhibitions, public art, a historic home and the over 30,000 works of art in the permanent collection that may not be on display, these programs offer a more specialized topical presentation while still introducing and utilizing visual literacy skills.

Examples of customized programs include:

  • Ancient Roman Glass for Classical Studies students

  • Understanding Manliness and Gender Dynamics in Art for Women and Gender Studies students

  • Applications of Wood in Art for Forestry students

  • Aesthetics in the Victorian Era at the Farm House Museum for AESHM students

  • History of Home Economics in Art for Family and Consumer Sciences students, and many more.

Customized Lecture in the Classroom: Museum staff are able to provide lectures in the classroom if a visit to the Museums is not possible. These programs can introduce the University Museums to students as well as explore objects in the collection or historical material.

Examples of customized lectures include:

  • Use of Lost Wax Casting in the Art on Campus Collection for Engineering Students

  • Introduction to Campus Aesthetics for Design students

  • Livestock and Art for Animal Sciences students, and others.

Assigning Students to Public Programs at the Museums: The University Museums offers a robust roster of free public programs each semester. Often these programs have strong connections to course material and we encourage faculty to assign students to attend programs as part of their course experience or offer extra credit for attendance. Museums staff is able to accurately track student attendance with the Atrack system and report back which students attended.

Unguided Programs: Faculty may wish to teach a session in a Museums space, but not request a formal presentation. University Museums does allow faculty to reserve time for their classes to use the Museums as unique teaching spaces. Two weeks’ notice is preferred to schedule space in the Museums. To book a time in the Museums please email or use the contact form.

Digital Initiatives and Resources

eMuseum Database: While only a small percentage of the collection is on exhibition at any given time, the entire collection of 30,000+ objects is searchable on the collections database. This can be utilized for research, projects, and to find works of art that could be used in classes or to introduce students to the Museums’ collections.

Customized Course Folders on eMuseum: Museums staff can create customized Object Folders that appear on the eMuseum page. This option allows faculty to select a specific group of objects for students to look through online. This resource is used by online courses as well as by faculty for assignments after an in-person Museums visit.

Virtual Programs: University Museums has a library of recorded and digital programs that are available on our YouTube channel

Art on Campus Interactive Digital Map:  Through a partnership with the University Library’s Digital Scholarship and Initiatives Department, the University Museums is able to offer an interactive digital map of a selection of the Art on Campus Collection. The visually impactful map allows users to navigate through the campus virtually and explore highlights of the public art collection as well as read a brief history of the collection and connect with further information and images on eMuseum.

Object Reading Worksheets: The two downloadable pdfs can be used to help students organize their thoughts and explore different ways of looking.


For support connecting the University Museums collections to your teaching email


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