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Talking About Art. Reading an Object Label, 101. How to Read an Object Label. When you visit a museum, you'll notice that every work of art is identified by a label. Once you know how to read an object label, you can learn a lot about the works of art.

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talking about art

Talking About Art

Reading an Object Label, 101

how to read an object label
How to Read an Object Label
  • When you visit a museum, you'll notice that every work of art is identified by a label. Once you know how to read an object label, you can learn a lot about the works of art.
  • Object labels provide you with many helpful clues that will help you learn some important facts about the artwork such as the name of the artist and the year it was created.
slide3

Ross Dickinson, Valley Farms, 1934, oil on canvas, 39 7/8 x 50 1/8 in. (101.4 x 127.3 cm.), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Transfer from the U.S. Department of Labor 1964.1.40

slide4

Object Label

Ross Dickinson, Valley Farms, 1934, oil on canvas, 39 7/8 x 50 1/8 in. (101.4 x 127.3 cm.), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Transfer from the U.S. Department of Labor 1964.1.40

slide5

Ross Dickinson, Valley Farms, 1934, oil on canvas, 39 7/8 x 50 1/8 in. (101.4 x 127.3 cm.), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Transfer from the U.S. Department of Labor 1964.1.40

Ross Dickinson is the name of the artist, sometimes the dates of birth and death follow the artist’s name.

slide6

Ross Dickinson, Valley Farms, 1934, oil on canvas, 39 7/8 x 50 1/8 in. (101.4 x 127.3 cm.), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Transfer from the U.S. Department of Labor 1964.1.40

Valley Farmsis the title of the artwork (often this is italicized)

slide7

Ross Dickinson, Valley Farms,1934, oil on canvas, 39 7/8 x 50 1/8 in.

(101.4 x 127.3 cm.), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Transfer from the U.S. Department of Labor

1964.1.40

1934is the year in which the work of

art was created

slide8

Ross Dickinson, Valley Farms, 1934, oil on canvas, 39 7/8 x 50 1/8 in.

(101.4 x 127.3 cm.), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Transfer

from the U.S. Department of Labor

1964.1.40

oil on canvasis the medium or the

materials used by the artist to make

the work of art

slide9

Ross Dickinson, Valley Farms, 1934, oil on canvas, 39 7/8 x 50 1/8 in. (101.4 x 127.3 cm.), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Transfer from the U.S. Department of Labor

1964.1.40

39 7/8 x 50 1/8 in. (101.4 x 127.3 cm.)tells you the dimensions of the work of art

slide10

Ross Dickinson, Valley Farms, 1934, oil on canvas, 39 7/8 x 50 1/8 in. (101.4 x 127.3 cm.), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Transfer from the U.S. Department of Labor 1964.1.40

Smithsonian American Art Museum

tells you who owns the work of art

or to which museum’s collection it belongs

slide11

Ross Dickinson, Valley Farms, 1934,

oil on canvas, 39 7/8 x 50 1/8 in.

(101.4 x 127.3 cm.), Smithsonian

American Art Museum, Transfer

from the U.S. Department of Labor

1964.1.40

Transfer from the U.S. Department of Labor tells how the museum came to own the object

slide12

Ross Dickinson, Valley Farms, 1934,

oil on canvas, 39 7/8 x 50 1/8 in.

(101.4 x 127.3 cm.), Smithsonian

American Art Museum, Transfer

from the U.S. Department of Labor

1964.1.40

1964.1.40 this is the accession number. It tells you that this work came to be a part of the museum’s collection in 1964 and of the objects collected that year- it was in the first lot or grouping and within that grouping , it was the 40th object.

slide13

What can you find out from this object label?

Int'l Surface No. 1

1960 Stuart Davis Born: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1892 Died: New York, New York 1964 oil on canvas 57 1/8 x 45 1/8 in. (145.2 x 114.6 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc. 1969.47.55