Photo by Gabriella Gulman

Art holds deep cultural, historical significance beyond what meets the eye

As junior Esther Chung approaches the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, she can’t help but notice the excitement coming from visitors waiting to enter the largest museum in the country. 

This past summer, Chung said she visited multiple museums in New York City, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art. 

Chung said she has also visited numerous museums in the Bay Area and China that hold meaning to her. She also added that each work of art in these museums conveys a specific message that allows her to step back in time and appreciate or learn about different cultures. 

“When I look at Chinese calligraphy in a painting, and I still don’t completely comprehend it, to me it still holds a lot of meaning,” Chung said. “I think it’s the hidden messages within each work of art that has a story behind it.”

Chung is not the only student who has taken an interest in museums.

Junior Sonia Dwivedi, who has visited the Louvre, MET and the Museum of Natural History in New York, said museums offer historical knowledge in addition to cultural connections. 

“I love how art museums teach individuals about events in history,” Dwivedi said. “I also appreciate modern art because they are commentaries on contemporary society which can be very educational.” 

Dwivedi, who took AP Art History last year, said the class field trips to local museums including the Cantor Arts Center influenced her to look at art from this new perspective. 

“I went to the Cantor for my Art History field trip class last year, and it was as interesting to see the paintings that we had learned about in class,” Dwivedi said. “My experience in the class gave me exposure to a variety of art in which I learned how to analyze visual and contextual evidence to determine the function or purpose.”

AP Art History teacher Susan La Fetra said that looking at art helps make connections with the past along with other cultures. 

“Looking at art is a form of communication that is universal amongst all cultures,” La Fetra said. “And it’s important to understand other people and connect with other cultures.”