Spanning millennia and numbering millions of objects, Yale University’s collections constitute an unparalleled cultural and educational resource. Beyond their use in scholarship, research, and creative work, collections play an important role in teaching and learning on campus. First-hand encounters with original works of art and primary source materials offer a different learning modality and an exciting learning environment that together deepen student engagement with course content, while also sparking connections across disciplines, cultures, and concepts. Through their tangible presence and material and aesthetic characteristics, Yale’s unique collections can convey information, engage the imagination, and provoke questions in ways no textbook could. Furthermore, teaching with collections can cultivate transferable skills and thinking dispositions such as visual and material literacies, perspective-taking, and grappling with ambiguity that can serve students beyond graduation.
With their exceptional depth and breadth, Yale’s museum and library collections support a wide variety of subject areas, interests, and goals across the curriculum. For example:
Students in the School of the Environment can study maps and photographs to document a changing landscape.
A physics class can ponder the forces keeping a modernist statue upright or explore how notions of time and space differ across cultures.
Medical students can hone their critical observation skills or cultivate empathy in front of a painting.
All disciplines can wonder at the complexity of human history, as well as the limitations inherent in the collected byproducts of human activity.
As learning increasingly relies on virtual sources and the rapid retrieval of information from the internet, slow and close in-person interactions with collections help students to engage in authentic and embodied ways with an object’s physical reality and thus to understand the real as distinctly different from the virtual. For more examples from STEM fields, see the recordings of our Fall 2022 STEM in the Museum event.
Yale’s cultural heritage institutions concentrate both extraordinary curatorial expertise and highly trained museum and library staff who provide intellectual and physical access to the collections and ensure an active and diverse learning experience for students. We invite instructors of all ranks and from all disciplines to consider bringing their classes to Yale’s collections, as a single visit to shake up classroom routines or reinvigorate conversations with new ideas, a series of visits correlated with course content and learning outcomes, or even an entire course based in our repositories.
To learn more about Yale’s collections, to schedule a consultation about the specifics of integrating collections into your teaching, or to book a class visit, contact the respective institution at the email address provided below.
LIBRARY AND MUSEUM COLLECTIONS
To explore the possibilities across all of Yale’s museums, libraries, and archives, visit LUX, a digital platform that offers a unified search of Yale’s cultural heritage holdings.
Arts Library Special Collections, Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library
Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library (including Manuscripts and Archives)
Department of Area Studies and Humanities Research Support (DASHRS)
Divinity Library Special Collections
Irving S. Gilmore Music Library
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The Lewis Walpole Library
Marx Science and Social Science Library
Medical Historical Library
Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library
Rare Book Collection, Lillian Goldman Law Library
Yale Babylonian Collection
Yale Film Archive
Yale Center for British Art
Yale Collection of Musical Instruments
Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History
Yale University Art Gallery