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Teaching from Home with Meredith & Preston

Published June 15, 2020

Meredith Lynn is the Assistant Curator and Director of Galleries at MoFA. As the university prepares for the Fall semester, she has been restructuring her course, The Museum Object, which will be taught online.

One of the most fulfilling and fun parts of my job is teaching. Every semester I teach a class in the Department of Art or Art History. I usually focus on museum studies and guide students through a series of hands-on exercises that culminate in exhibitions in galleries across campus, and the move to online teaching has been both challenging and rewarding in these strange times.

In the Fall, I’ll be co-teaching The Museum Object in the Department of Art History with Tenley Bick. Dr. Bick and I have been discussing how to address “the object” in a setting where there are no objects – the Zoom Room. We’re going to focus on instruction-based art – works of art where the “object” is a series of directives written by the artist and then carried out by other artists, museum staff, or participants. In connection with this class, MoFA will be hosting do it, an exhibition of instruction-based art curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist.

Throughout the semester we’ll explore such issues as authorship, the shift away from object and toward process, the creation of value, and the relationship between artist and institution. Like teachers everywhere, we’re considering how to connect to our students, build a sense of community in the classroom, and facilitate dynamic conversations through tools like Zoom. Researching these issues feels a bit like starting from scratch, but it’s given me an opportunity to critically think about the assumptions, privileges, and biases that I bring to the classroom. I’m excited, but also apprehensive, for the semester. I hope that I’ll come through the challenges a better teacher.

If you’re interested in instruction-based art and would like to turn your living room, Instagram feed, or next family dinner into an art project, check out do it (home), a version of do it organized by ICI that encourages anyone to do and share instruction-based art projects.

– Meredith


Preston McLane is the Director of MoFA. As the university prepares for the Fall semester, he has been creating his new course, Art & Cultural Heritage Law & Policy, which will be taught online.

I am (home)working on a new graduate course that will be offered this Fall semester – Art & Cultural Heritage Law & Policy.  I have taught variations on this class in the past, but the discipline of “Art Law” is rapidly expanding, and it is always interesting to learn about and discuss the active cases and controversies that we hear about in the news. From the disposition of racist monuments, to the legal protections afforded to protest murals, to renewed calls for plundered art works to be returned to their home countries, many of the most important issues we face as a society reside at the intersection of art and law.

I am developing reading lists in areas including cultural reparations and repatriation, artistic freedom and censorship, and art theft.  Several new books come out each year, and students in the course will be invited to select a title to review.  Here are a few most recent releases (I will admit to knowing about them, but not yet to reading them all!):

  • John Barelli, Stealing the Show: A History of Art and Crime in Six Thefts (Lyons Press, 2019)
  • Joan Kee, Models of Integrity: Art and Law in Post-Sixties America (University of California Press, 2019)
  • Mary M. Lane, Hitler’s Last Hostages: Looted Art and the Soul of the Third Reich (PublicAffairs, 2019)
  • Jehane Ragai, The Scientist and the Forger: Probing a Turbulent Art World (World Scientific, 2018)
  • Martin Wilson, Art Law and the Business of Art (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2019)

There are several fantastic feeds dedicated to art law, and for several years I have hosted the “@ArtLawPosts” Twitter account, where I repost and remark on art law stories from around the world. Here are a few links, if you are interested in keeping up with current events:

For now, the Art & Cultural Heritage Law & Policy course will be offered only to graduate students, but I am very interested in hearing from any other students interested in a specialized course, seminar, or workshop on issues related to art and law. If you would like more recommendations for books or web resources, I will be glad to share. Please feel free to e-mail me at

– Preston