User Menu

MFA for Educators

Engage your students with the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, to illustrate themes and concepts in any discipline.

Art of China: Technology

This online gallery supports the Museum of Fine Arts new Chinese Song Dynasty gallery now on view.

This lesson explores the advances of technology within China. A culture that is perhaps the most advanced in the world, ancient China made incredible leaps compared to Western cultures.  During the Song Dynasty, new technology created gunpowder, paper money, a compass, and more.

By examining several objects from the Song Dynasty (960-1279) students will see advancements by comparison to previous dynasties.  Some of these advances in technology can also be found in pottery, paintings, writing, as well as others. This lesson also explores how these technological advances impacted trade.

The objects in this lesson are just the beginning. We encourage you to explore the Museum’s online collection through this web source—or even better, to visit the Museum and walk through the physical galleries—to look for other objects that will provide further insights into this exhibitions

For sample related classroom activities, download the PDFs available under Related Resources. We encourage teachers to modify this lesson to meet the needs of older or younger students.


Learning goals:

In exploring this lesson, students will:

-Discover how to use a visual image to gather information about new developments in technology

-Explore a variety of paintings and sculpture from around the world

This discovery will require students to:

-Look closely at the images and make observations based on visual evidence. 

-Make connections between the visual art and the history that encompasses its creation

-Use visual evidence to support their written and verbal understanding of Chinese technology

Using this resource: 

History teachers and students will be interested in the details imbedded within objects, which could then be translated historical events

History teachers and students will be interested in using the visual images as information for multiple advancements during the Song Dynasty

Science teachers and students will be interested in exploring the new technology that evolved during the Song Dynasty

Visual Art teachers and students will be interested in in the unique styles and techniques from the Song Dynasty