Gallery Hunt: Shape Up

Gallery Hunt: Shape Up

Explore the galleries and see how artists used different shapes!

Grade Level:
Adult, College, Early Childhood, Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Grades K-2
African Art, American Art, Ancient Art, Decorative Arts after 1890, European Art, Modern and Contemporary Art, South Asian Art
Africa, America, Europe, Greece, India, South Asia
Subject Area:
Fine Arts, Visual Arts
Activity Type:
Gallery Guides & Hunts

Gallery Hunt: Shape Up

Geometric shapes are regular and have names you recognize like circle, square, triangle, rectangle, and oval. Organic shapes are usually irregular, occur in nature, and don’t always have names. Explore the galleries and see how artists used different shapes!

Begin in the American Galleries on Level 2. Have fun!


American Art Galleries, Level 2

This artist was inspired by the shapes found in city buildings.

What geometric shapes can you see?


American Art Galleries, Level 2

Continue in the American Galleries to find this swirling landscape painting. This artist used shapes that are very different from the first work you saw.

Are these shapes organic or geometric?


Ancient Art Galleries, Level 2

Make your way out of the American Galleries, toward the Ancient Galleries courtyard. This large Greek storage jar is covered in geometric and organic shapes!

What do you think might have been stored in here?


European Art Galleries, Level 2

Leave ancient Greece and enter Elegance & Wonder. Lizards, insects, and spiders…oh my! This painting is full of organic shapes. They curve and bend in all kinds of ways. Jan van Kessel, the artist of this artwork painted insects and flowers with the accuracy of a scientific naturalist.

The natural world is full of organic shapes. What kinds might you find in your own garden?


African Art Galleries, Level 2

Travel through Evans Court to the African Galleries. This mighty cloth is full of geometric shapes that have specific meanings and is worn for special occasions.

What do you wear for special occasions?


Marble Hall, Level 2

As you head into the Marble Hall, you can’t miss the large, colorful blocks bouncing along the walls!

What is another word for block?


Decorative Arts Galleries, Level 3

Go upstairs to the Art Deco Galleries to find this brightly colored, functional work of art. This artist combined lots of geometric-shaped pieces of glass to make this window.

Name the largest shape!


South Asian Art Galleries, Level 3

Leave the Art Deco Galleries, cross the bridge, and go into the South Asian Galleries. This huge marble pavilion is bursting with organic and geometric shapes and was used for both work and play.

What would you use it for?

Images (as details)

1 Delmonico Building, 1926, Charles Scheeler (American, 1883-1965), lithograph. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Floyd D. & Anne C. Gottwald Fund, 2020.4

2 Mars in Orange and Green, 1935, Arthur Dove (American, 1880–1946), oil on canvas. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur S. Brinkley Jr. 79.137

3 Relief Pithos (Storage Container), ca. 675 BC, Greek (Cretan), terracotta. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Arthur and Margaret Glasgow Fund, 79.147

4 A Study of Butterflies, Lizards, Beetles, and Other Insects, late 1650s, Jan van Kessel (Flemish, 1626-1679), oil on copper, laid down on panel. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Jordan and Thomas A. Saunders III Collection, L2020.6.18

5 Man’s Wrapper (Kente Cloth), late 20th century, Akan culture (Ghana), rayon or silk. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund, 2007.63

6 Wall Drawing #541, 1987, Sol LeWitt, (American, 1928–2007), acrylic wash on wall. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Sydney and Frances Lewis Endowment Fund, 99.34

7 Window, 1912, Frank Lloyd Wright (American, 1867–1959), clear and colored glass, zinc. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Gift of Sydney and Frances Lewis, 85.348.2

8 Garden Pavilion, 19th century, Indian (Rajasthan), white marble with black schist and brown mottled marble inlays. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund, 2005.2