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MFA for Educators

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

Exploring Classical Art at the MFA: Echoes of Antiquity - Architecture

Throughout the ages, from medieval to modern times, artists, architects, and sculptors have looked to the arts of the ancient Greeks and Romans for inspiration. Echoes of Antiquity: Architecture introduces students to the vocabulary of classical architecture. At the MFA, students will walk back through time to discover the architecture of the classical age – its particular structures, materials, and decorative elements. They will also explore their own community to find many of the same classical motifs within the walls and buildings in their neighborhoods, opening their eyes to classical architectural forms that can be found in public buildings and private houses today.

In a visit to the MFA, students can directly experience the world of the Greeks and Romans through the works of art they created. They will also see examples of classical influence on American architecture by analyzing the Museum building itself. Students will spend time looking at and discussing the outside of the Museum building, noting the different uses of classical elements on its three major sides. They will look for additional signs of classical influence on the building’s interior and in the American neoclassical period rooms while considering why classical architecture is still so influential.


Recognizing and identifying classical architectural motifs on the exterior and in the interior of the Museum building.

Understanding why artists and architects have continued to borrow the architectural forms of the Greeks and Romans, especially in America.

Analyzing the architecture of different Museum spaces to understand how architects use visual elements (materials, lighting, proportions, etc.) to create specific effects.

These themes support both the Common Core Standards and Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. By looking closely at these objects both in the online gallery and at the MFA, students can…

Read closely to determine what the text says [object shows] explicitly and to make logical inferences from it, as well as, cite specific textual [or visual] evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text [or object]. (CCSSI – College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading #1)

Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text [or object]. (CCSSI – College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading #6)

Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse formats and media, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words. (CCSSI – College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading #7)

Analyze how two or more texts [or objects] address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors [or artists] take. (CCSSI – College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading #9)

[Work towards the ability to] Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts [objects] independently and proficiently. (CCSSI – College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading #10)

For further information on how exploring Classical Art at the MFA connects with the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks, please see “Possible Connections to Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks” under the “Related Resources” tab.

Related Resources