Picturing The Story


Every work of art has a story to tell, either through image and symbol, or through custom and ritual. These stories can explain the unexplainable, teach a life lesson, or celebrate our common human experiences.

Picturing the Story uses works of art as a springboard for an interdisciplinary approach to culture, environment, language, and learning. It was developed for classroom use, using selected narrative works of world art from the permanent collection of the Memorial Art Gallery.

From the earliest of times, artists have manipulated materials, incorporating symbols and images, in order to bring a story to life visually. The stories originate from many cultural sources, including the imaginary past, traditional beliefs, sacred texts, and oral traditions.

Each of these works of art has a story to tell. We invite you to explore these seven pieces from our permanent collection to find out what choices each artist made in order to Picture the Story.

  • Male and Female Chi Wara, Bamana culture, Mali
  • Chilkat Robe (Naaxein), Tlingit culture
  • Aesop's Fable, The Fox and the Crane
  • Kraters, Mycenaean culture, Greece
  • "Return to Ayodha" – Ramayana, Hindu culture, India
  • Jaguar Effigy Vessel, Costa Rica
  • Finance Minister Maya, Egypt

Picturing the Story: A Statement of Purpose and Vision
MAG’s Picturing the Story website is a multimedia, multidisciplinary site that enabled a user-driven exploration of seven artworks from MAG’s permanent collection and generally on view in the galleries.  The artworks reflect different world cultures, belief systems, materials, technologies, and historical periods, and represent culturally significant narratives. The depth and range of information is based on school curriculum areas for 6th grade and up, especially Art, Social Studies and English Language Arts, and accommodates multiple learning styles through use of text, audio, ASL interpretation, and image magnification. The site was designed as a digital resource for classroom teachers and students, but printable versions of information and narratives and a range of bespoke worksheets and activity suggestions support potential technological limitations.  The layered, self-guided exploration of the artworks is intended to enrich the learning process as well as create a familiarity with the artworks, an understanding of their role in the culture of origin, and an appreciation for their complexity.
Generous support for this project provided by Art Bridges