The Online Museum Educational Resources in Asian Art from the valuable Asia for Educators (AFE) organizes links to museum websites with resources for teaching and learning about Asia. Linked materials include informational essays, interactive websites, and full lesson plans, along with high quality images of art pieces. The OMuERAA connects with more than one hundred museums, making a rich array of educational materials available to students and instructors
The site’s resources are organized in three ways, all visible on the banner menu and modules on the landing page: online educational units; featured topics including religions; and, museums and organizations.
Educational units can be sorted by art subject area, time period, and/or country region. Within these results, users can choose to view only special exhibitions, teaching art units, or materials from the Met Museum. These options allow users to narrow their search and allow browsing. Looking at Japanese art, and then narrowing to c. 600 - c. 1000 CE, for instance yields a manageable twelve links Lesson plans linked from OMuREAA are mainly appropriate for K-12, and often include hands-on activities. Unfortunately, not all links labeled “teaching units” connect to scripted lessons. The text and images on specific art pieces, while useful, might disappoint instructors hoping to find classroom activities.
Instructors and students can also explore museum resources by featured topics or religions. The thirteen featured topics includes historical connections, e.g. Asians in the Americas, and subjects of the art, e.g. music and musical instruments. Users can also choose resources from one of fourteen religions from Nestorian Christianity with one resource to Buddhism with seventy-nine. These resources are also labeled as special exhibitions, teaching art units, or materials from the Met Museum, although they cannot be sorted by these labels.
The primary utility of OMuERAA may be as a source of images and explanatory text for both students and instructors. Students can find useful sites for research projects. Many students in secondary history classrooms need to learn to move from simple image searches to finding high quality sites to browse. The menus and filters on OMuREAA allow students to find a browsable number of resources which provide context for the objects in images. Instructors can similarly use the site to find art pieces to illustrate content or spark discussion, and non-specialists will benefit from the contextual information.
OMuERAA also allows users to view resources by museums. Instructors and students might find museums that particularly suit their needs. For instance, the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco has a strong collection of lesson plans. The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco has seventy-three entries, but most museums have less than ten links from the site. This makes OMuERAA valuable. Like many instructors, I have used the Met Museum's website for images and essays, but through OMuERAA wouldI found very useful material at the USC Pacific Asia museum, including these resources for teaching Buddhism.
Despite curating links to more than one hundred museums OMuREAA has limits. Among the resources East Asian materials are by far the most common here, as they are on the AFE. Instructors and students will find some materials for South and Southeast Asia, and other areas are lightly represented. Each linked website is its own adventure to navigate, but most are straightforward. I did find some dead links, but only a few of the scores that I clicked.
Overall, Asia for Educators has provided a valuable service to instructors and students of Asian history. The OMuERAA clearinghouse for museum websites brings together an array of resources that will be especially useful for non-specialists and K-12 teachers. It is an especially useful source for finding images of material culture to use in classroom presentations or projects. One to which some World History instructors will return repeatedly looking for materials.
Eric Beckman has taught history with high school students since 1990, first in California and now in Minnesota. His teaching practice and professional development presentations focus on educational equity, historical thinking, and blended learning. He has also created and delivered AP World content for Fiveable, a social learning platform and startup company, that helps students to advance academically. His current work is in globalizing World History curricula and incorporating more student construction of historical knowledge, especially with deep literacy.