Exercise #5 – Research

Museum of the North

Option 1: Go to a museum near you. Many of you are here in Fairbanks, so I recommend the Museum of the North. But any museum will do. There are even virtual museums online.

Find one work in the museum – could be art, could be a historical artifact. One.

Describe this thing you have chosen. Write what it is about that work that intrigues you.  What questions do you have about it? What would you like to know about in relation to it? Jot down some of these ideas and questions. For example, I am looking at a painting by Rockwell Kent. Here are my questions: Who was Rockwell Kent? Why is this painting called Voyageurs? How did the museum get this painting? This painting was done in the early 1920’s: what were paintbrushes made out of?

Perhaps you’ll come to more questions: AHA! I just found out Rockwell Kent did the original illustrations for Moby  Dick.  Did Rockwell Kent know Herman Melville? What did they say about each other? Research can be fun (discovery!), illuminating, heartbreaking. I think too often, we fear it, or see it as drudgery. Learn to embrace it, and you will be a better writer.

Now, research the piece you have chosen. Google and Wikipedia are very useful, but try not to rely on only them. Go to a library. Check a local bookstore. It is okay to ask people at the museum, or other people – just verify they know what they’re talking about!

In roughly 2 pages – Write a description of item or work. What intrigues you? What questions do you have? Jot down 5-6 questions, and then seek the answers. Write a summary of this research. Due by email, Thursday, February 27, emailed to dlfarmer@alaska.edu

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