University of Florida Homepage

Rebecca Nagy

Director, Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art
2010-2011 Library Enhancement Grant

The Harn Museum of Art at the University of Florida, with the assistance of a Library Enhancement Grant provided by the Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere, has made significant book acquisitions in support of the freshman humanities course, “What is the Good Life?” These books are housed in the Harn’s Bishop Study Center where they are available to faculty, students and other museum visitors.

The University of Florida began offering this core course that explores the enduring question “What is the Good Life?” from the perspectives of the humanities disciplines in Spring 2010. Topics include the cost of the good life, how people have chosen to live as members of local and global communities, and conceptions and expressions of beauty, power, love, and health. The intention is to give all students at UF an introduction to larger humanistic questions that can enhance their understanding and appreciation of their own work, whether they study mathematics, science, engineering, or any other discipline. The Harn Museum of Art is a major partner in this course, with students visiting museum exhibitions to view works of art and museum objects linked to course discussions and readings.

While at the museum, students can visit the Bishop Study Center. The Center is an important resource for students, both in the humanities class and for those generally interested in art. The books obtained through the Library Enhancement Grant focus on art in various cultures throughout history. Several of the books acquired by the Harn Museum of Art cover African art, including books on North African textile weaving. There are also books on both arts and aesthetics in Asian and Middle Eastern cultures. These volumes include Pilgrimage and Buddhist Art by Adriana Proser, Images of Women in Chinese Thought and Culture by Robin Wang, and Chaotic Harmony: Contemporary Korean Photography by Anne Wilkes Tucker. These provide an essential international and comparative perspective for students utilizing the study center for the Humanities class, or anyone curious about non-western perspectives on art. At the same time, several books are intended to give students a stronger background in contemporary art that is all around them. Some cover the history of American art, and others look at recent trends and issues in art, such as the conservation of photographs and the social impact of art. These books, and many others acquired by the Harn, give students the background they need to understand artistic works and exhibitions in the Harn Museum, whether they are visiting for their own pleasure or for their course.