Lure of the West (Grades 4 +)

Download 44.37 Kb.
Date conversion15.05.2016
Size44.37 Kb.

Artful Connections

Lure of the West (Grades 4 +)


As both a physical place and an idealized place, the American West retains a powerful allure in popular culture. Explore depictions of the people, lifestyles, and landscape of the nineteenth-century West to better understand this dynamic period of history. After an introduction to westward expansion through a pre-visit activity, participation in the videoconference, and a post-visit lesson to cement concepts, your students will be better able to:

  • Understand the period of westward expansion in America during the 1800s

  • Understand the effect westward expansion had on settlers’ and American Indians’ lives

  • Reflect upon and assess artworks depicting westward expansion and the ideals of Manifest Destiny

  • Use visual vocabulary to articulate observations and interpretations of artworks

National Standards

Visual Arts

K-12.3 Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas;

K-12.4 Understanding the visual arts in relation to history and cultures;

K-12.5 Reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others;

K-12.6 Making connections between visual arts and other disciplines.

US History

K-4.1 Living and working together in families and communities, now and long ago.

Tips for a Successful Videoconference

Before the Videoconference

  • Check with your technology coordinator to ensure your school has compatible videoconferencing equipment (H.323 protocol).

  • At least four weeks prior to your preferred dates, schedule your videoconference with the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration (CILC): Search the list of content providers for Smithsonian American Art Museum to view a list of our programs. All requests made on CILC will be routed to the museum and our staff will contact you to set up a test call.

Please note: We recommend you book early due to high demand for limited time slots.

  • At least one week prior to your program date:

    • Staff will contact you with the assigned videoconference presenter’s name and e-mail. Contact the presenter to discuss your plans for integrating this topic with your curriculum. Your videoconference presenter may suggest ways to customize the content of the videoconference to your needs.

    • Complete a successful test call at the scheduled time with the American Art Museum staff. This is a good time to practice turning the equipment on and off and locating the volume and other functions of your videoconference equipment.

    • Identify a space where all your students will be able to sit comfortably within your camera’s view, see a projected PowerPoint, and hear the videoconference presenter.

    • Review videoconference rules and expectations with your students. Students should speak loudly and clearly to the presenter, one at a time. It’s helpful to have students raise their hands and for you to call on them before they speak.

    • Review the pre-visit material (available to download at Encourage your students to write down questions for the videoconference presenter elicited by the pre-visit activities. Questions about the content, artwork, museum, and (within reason) the presenter are welcome!

During the Videoconference

  • Make sure students are comfortably seated within view of the camera and can readily see the videoconference screen and projected PowerPoint presentation.

  • Classroom-appropriate behavior is essential to a successful videoconference program. Students should listen to the presenter as well as each other and should behave respectfully.

  • Encourage your students to ask and answer questions and give their opinions and ideas. Remind students to speak loudly and clearly for the presenter.

  • Encourage your students to exercise the observation and interpretation skills you introduced with the pre-visit materials.

  • Help the videoconference presenter maintain classroom management. Call on students to prompt them to ask and answer questions. Consider rephrasing or restating a question if you know your students have something to say but are shy or may not understand the question. If the presenter cannot hear students, repeat their answers for the presenter.

After the Videoconference

  • Incorporate the appropriate videoconference post-lesson into your classroom curriculum (available to download at

  • Contact the videoconference presenter with any follow-up questions from your students.

  • Contact American Art staff ( with your comments and suggestions. Evaluation and program improvement are a priority and we welcome your comments.

  • Follow the link to CILC below and complete a brief survey about your videoconference experience.

    • Lure of the West


US History/Civics

Expansionism – (n.) the national policy of acquiring new territories to gain natural resources and economic influence

expedition – (n.) a journey undertaken specifically to scout habitable places and passable shipping routes in the American West

frontier – (n.) the places of territorial holdings where pioneers and explorers left developed settlements

Gold Rush – (n.) the westward push of people in search of newly discovered gold. For example, the California Gold Rush of 1850 led to the settlement of that territory

homestead – (v.) to acquire land outside the established states and territories through occupation and improvement of that land. The Homestead Act of 1862 was signed by President Abraham Lincoln.

immigrate – (v.) to enter into a country with the intention of establishing a life and livelihood

Louisiana Purchase – (n.) the purchase of a territory by the United States in 1803 from the French the land between the original colonies and the Mississippi River south of the Great Lakes. President Thomas Jefferson advocated for the purchase, which doubled the size of the United States

Manifest Destiny – (n.) the belief that the acquisition and settlement of the American West, from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, was predestined and even preordained

migration – (n.) the movement of populations from one place to another. For example, the movement of humans or animals in search of new or additional resources

speculate– (v.) to purchase a good or commodity and attempt to sell it to someone at a profit

survey – (v.) to determine the situation of a tract of land or its land forms by measuring and charting

territory – (n.) an organized section of land under the jurisdiction of a government having self-governance but not the rights and privileges afforded to states

treaty – (n.) a written contract made through negotiation between governments or sovereign people. For example, agreements made between Native American nations and the federal government

Visual Arts

composition – (n.) the arrangement of elements such as shape, line, value, and form within an artwork

interpret – (v.) to derive meaning from observed features or traits

landscape – (n.) a picture representing natural scenery

museum – (n.) an organization traditionally concerned with acquiring, conserving, studying, and exhibiting objects

observe – (v.) to note the visible features or traits of an artwork

portrait – (n.) a pictorial representation of a person, usually showing the face

subject – (n.) the principal idea conveyed by a work of art

symbol – (n.) something that stands for something else due to a relationship, association, or accidental resemblance1

Topic Related Artworks

A representative sample of the artworks in our collection that support the videoconference topic appears below. These are suggested for use during pre-videoconference activities. Images used during your videoconference may vary.






Credit Line:

Acc. Number:

Web Link:

The Speculator


Francis William Edmonds

oil on canvas

25 1/8 x 30 1/8 in. (63.7 x 76.4 cm.)

Gift of Ruth C. and Kevin McCann in affectionate memory of Dwight David Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States






Credit Line:

Acc. Number:

Web Link:

Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way (mural study, U.S. Capitol)


Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze

oil on canvas

33 1/4 x 43 3/8 in. (84.5 x 110.1 cm.)

Bequest of Sara Carr Upton







Credit Line:

Acc. Number:

Web Link:

Wi-jún-jon, Pigeon's Egg Head (The Light) Going To and Returning From Washington


George Catlin

oil on canvas

29 x 24 in. (73.6 x 60.9 cm)

Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr.






Credit Line:
Acc. Number:

Web Link:

Rainbow over the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone


Thomas Moran

oil on canvas

30 1/8 x 37 in. (76.5 x 94.0 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Bequest of Marion H. Conley






Credit Line:
Acc. Number:

Web Link:

Miners in the Sierras


Charles Christian Nahl

August Wenderoth

oil on canvas mounted on canvas

54 1/4 x 66 7/8 in. (137.7 x 169.8 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of the Fred Heilbron Collection 1982.120

Additional Resources

Catlin Classroom

Explore Native American history and culture through multiple perspectives. This site, which features the paintings and journals of George Catlin, includes galleries, videos, lessons, and a searchable database of journal entries from the 1830s.

Lure of the West

This slide show includes paintings and sculptures from the 1820s through the 1940s that incorporate various attitudes toward Native American cultures, depict the expanding frontier and the pristine wilderness, and document the change brought on by the Gold Rush.

Podcast: The American West

This podcast includes discussion of the Lewis and Clark expedition’s doctor, Benjamin Rush, an introduction to the exploration through opera, and an exploration of the work of painter George Catlin.

Interview: Jaune Quick-to-See Smith

A member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Nation, a painter and lithographer, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith discusses the inspiration that prompted her to create works such as State Names.

Westward Expansion: Encounters at a Cultural Crossroads

The expansion of the U.S. westward and the experiences of the migrants as well as Native Americans are documented in photographs, sheet music, maps, letters, oral history, and more from the Library of Congress.

Lure of the West: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum by Amy Pastan (Washington, DC: Smithsonian American Art Museum: 2000).

In this book, paintings and sculptures illustrate changing attitudes toward the West—its landscape, peoples, and development—from the 1820s through the 1940s. Charles Bird King, George Catlin, and others documented Native American cultures, while Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Moran painted an idealized wilderness. Later, members of the Taos Society of Artists presented the rich Native cultures and rugged terrain of the Southwest.

Going West! Quilts and Community by Roderick Kiracofe and Sandi Fox (Washington, DC: Smithsonian American Art Museum: 2007).

Going West! Quilts and Community presents more than fifty quilts, brought to or made in Nebraska in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Embellished with flowers, stars, wagon wheels, dazzling mosaics and even signatures, the quilts reveal the extraordinary creativity of the individuals who made them. The essays reveal the hardship and risk overlanders undertook to leave the familiar and forge new communities in the West, and the joy and pride quiltmakers brought to this time-honored craft.

Your Travel Guide to America’s Old West by Rita J. Markel (Minneapolis, MN: Lerner Publishing Group: 2004).

Written in a conversational voice and accompanied by photographs and engravings, this book provides details about the lives of Native Americans, vaqueros, prospectors and more.

1 Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. 11th ed. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc. 2004. [adapted]

The database is protected by copyright © 2016
send message

    Main page