Study trips at The Courtauld

Hi everyone!

My name is Teresa and I studied MA History of Art Special Option England, Europe and Beyond: Art, Identity, Trade and Politics in the Middle Ages.

One of the reasons why I chose The Courtauld for my MA is the great attention this institution grants to skills training, allowing its students to engage closely with objects of art and with the art world especially through the numerous field trips offered in several of the MA Special Options. Being focussed on the art of England, the Special Option I chose was particularly rich in these learning experiences, and during the Autumn and Spring terms many of our lessons were scheduled to be taken out of the classroom and inside museums or medieval buildings around the country. In London, our trips were most often directed towards the medieval rooms of great museums, namely the National Gallery and the V&A, where we focussed on single works of art, such as the remarkable Wilton Diptych, or bigger art historical subjects, like medieval ivories or Opus Anglicanum. Through the Courtauld however we were also able to experience otherwise secluded areas of Westminster Abbey and to enjoy the marvellous Temple Church all by ourselves. One of our trips even brought us at the heart of Somerset House, where, thanks to its substantial archives, we had the chance to see in person the remarkable works of English Antiquarians of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The most exciting study trips, however, brought us outside the city: to Ely, Durham, Canterbury and Cambridge. While each one of these trips was especially focussed on a noteworthy medieval building, during these day-long ‘expeditions’ we also focussed on other issues concerning the spaces, objects and people that enlivened these important centres during the Middle Ages. These four trips, moreover, not only included on-site lessons with our Courtuald professors, but also various surprising experiences, in which learning was paired with marvel and fun. Our trip to Canterbury cathedral, for example, included a stroll on the scaffolding of the roof, where we were accompanied by the Surveyor of the Fabric, allowing us a better understanding of what the conservation of an historical building entails. During this year, me and my classmates however had the fortune (or misfortune) of enjoying not only one but two rooftops, since we also got to walk on the roof of the King’s chapel during our trip to Cambridge. One thing that these trips surely taught us is that being an art historian is definitely not a sedentary job!

To anyone who has studied art history or wishes to do so in the future it will be clear how this type of learning experiences represents the best possible way of studying and enjoying art in all its forms: indeed, this type of projects is an important part of what makes the Courtauld a leading institution in the study of the History of Art. Finally, these experiences, shared by our class of 8, were fundamental in creating strong bonds and amazing friendships that I am sure will last a lifetime.

I hope you enjoyed hearing about our medieval adventures and that this gave you an idea of what amazing experiences a Courtauld MA can entail!

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