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Art History on the Road

“Look — they are really experiencing it,” said Umbra Art History Professor Adrian Hoch, surveying her “Leonardo da Vinci” students’ reaction to the Renaissance artist’s celebrated “The Last Supper.”

“What do you think?” she asked as the group filed out of the Convent of Santa Maria della Grazie in Milan. “Worth the wait?”

The students agreed wholeheartedly – as they do every year without fail, Hoch reported.

Over the last two weekends, the art history professor has led two field trips for her courses. After months of lectures accompanying PowerPoint pictures, the students saw the artists’ original work.

“Any photographic image does not relay the sense of the object,” Hoch explained. “On field trips, students get a sense of it in the context – how it was meant to be seen. They also get a sense of the historical context in which the work was created.”

Nov. 9-10, “Leonardo da Vinci” traveled to Florence and Milan. In Florence, students wandered through the Uffizi and the Palazzo Vecchio, pausing only for a quick caffé before hitting the road for Milan. The next morning, the group reconvened to visit “The Last Supper,” walk through the church of Santa Maria Novella delle Grazie, marvel at da Vinci’s larger-than-life murals – along with original full knights’ armor – in the Castello Sforzesca, gaze at the grand Duomo, and read original pieces from da Vinci’s notebooks (written backwards) at the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana.

Last weekend, “Survey of Renaissance Art” embarked on an art history odyssey through Florence.  Friday, the class also walked through the Uffizi before visiting Santa Croce, Santa Felicita, and Santo Spirito. Saturday, they wondered at the Cappella Brancacci, walked through Santa Maria Novella (more than just a train station!), and Bargello. They waved to the David at the Accademia before visiting the Florence Cathedral Museum, a recently-reopened site that Hoch had wanted to show students for the last 20 years it was under construction. One train ride later, the students were back in Perugia.

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