Gallery Preview: Mid-Late 20th Century

Gallery Preview: Mid-Late 20th Century

Before your visit to VMFA, introduce your students to the galleries. Let them explore the space and imagine what they can find there!

Grade Level:
College, Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12
Modern and Contemporary Art
Activity Type:
Gallery Preview

Gallery Preview: Mid-Late 20th Century

Take a Look Inside!

VMFA’s  Sydney and Francis Lewis Galleries showcase art made from the 1940s through the 2000s and feature paintings, sculpture, video art, prints, drawings, photographs, and collage. Like other galleries at the museum, objects on view change from time to time as curators rotate objects in and out of storage. This way more of this large collection can be shared with visitors, and new and interesting connections can be made between objects.

Click on the image to get a virtual view of the Mid-late 20th Century galleries.  Here you can get an idea of the kinds of objects on display.  When you visit the museum you will be visiting these galleries and exploring just a few of these objects.

As you take a look around consider:

  • What kinds of objects do you see?
  • How are they displayed?
  • If you could visit in person, what might you be interested in looking at first?
  • Do any of these objects remind you of something you are studying? How?


Yes! The objects displayed in these galleries are real examples of art made by artists working in the 20th century. By caring for and studying these objects in museums like VMFA, we are able to explore the complex and sometimes challenging ideas this art presents to us.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be a scholar or an art specialist to take a closer look and begin exploring. All you need is a little bit of time and some curiosity!


Use these simple steps to take a closer look at this painting.

  • Take a brief look at this painting and write down your first impression by finishing this sentence:

This painting is… (you can write anything— a single word, a full thought, even a question).

  • Now look back at the image. Keep looking for ten seconds. Write a new sentence.

Now I think this painting is… (elaborate on your first idea).

  • Repeat step two. This time finish the following sentence:

I wonder…

  • One more time! This time finish the following sentence:

The artist seems interested in…

Now you’ve looked at this painting for at least 30 seconds. Review your list of sentences.  You’ve just interpreted a work of art painted by artist Helen Frankenthaler in 1959.  Click on the image to find out more about this object. What are you still curious about? What new ideas do you have?