​I grew up in Manhattan and, although I had been to art and history museums, it was only in my junior year of high school when I took AP Art History that I realized this was what I wanted to do with my life. My teacher was irreverent and funny and honest, and seemed to know EVERYTHING. I wanted to know all that stuff. I went on to get a BA in Art History and then an MA in Humanities at The University of Chicago. I have worked at auction houses, art magazines, galleries, and museums and it became clear my gift was in talking about art and synthesizing a great deal of research into accessible conversations. I went to London to earn an MA in Museum Education, which taught me a great deal about rooting my teaching in people’s own associations, memories, and knowledge, being flexible, that games and art-making can be valuable tools in arts education, and how important it is to avoid language that creates subliminal boundaries, exclusivity, and bias.

I currently teach for The Metropolitan Museum of Art-Cloisters, the Morgan Library and Museum, The Guggenheim, and the Hispanic Society. I am also an on-air specialist for the Travel Channel's Mysteries at the Museum.  I have spent considerable time working with international students both in America and China and found this to be an incredibly eye-opening experience. Creating an environment where everyone contributes has allowed me to learn as much from my audiences as they learn from me and reminded me how important it is not to take a Euro-centric view of teaching. When I could not assume my audience could easily identify the Madonna and Child or had never before seen Greco-Roman art, it forced me to look at art anew and think more about what we are really seeing rather than what we have been programmed to see. This has made me a better teacher in general and taught me so much about diverse audiences. 

I truly love what I do and get tremendous pleasure in sharing that passion and joy with others. 

BEHIND THE LENS

 

From every museum I have worked with, among them the Cortauld in London and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, I have learned new ways of approaching works of art. At times it's important to really contextualize a work, at others I feel my job is to give my audiences the time and space to take something in. I fill my tours with guided looking, storytelling, and object handling and never approach two works of art the same way. Sometimes it's looking at the optics or color that brings out new thoughts, sometimes it's comparison or subject matter that starts a fresh conversation.Sometimes it's just pointing out an amusing detail or a funny story about the artist that resets our experience with the art. Looking at things from different angles, walking around them, and listening to the observations of one another can be as important as anything I say.  However we look at art and artifacts, my goal is to get people looking closely and feeling they have learned new ways of seeing art and the world around them that they can use long after they have left me.

© 2023 by MATT WHITBY. Proudly created with Wix.com

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