consider the Elgin Marbles as a case study of cultural heritage and art ethics.

Discussion: Cultural Property Rights and Heritage


You will consider the Elgin Marbles as a case study of cultural heritage and art ethics.


Who is the best conservator of artifacts: museums or the descendants of the people who created them? Is art an integral component in cultural or national identity? In this discussion, we will debate the problems involving the “ownership” of important cultural artifacts. Within a museum collection’s context, these artifacts would be called “material culture.”


First, research Lord Elgin and the Elgin Marble controversy surrounding specific works removed from the Parthenon in Greece. Also visit:

When you are done with your research, answer the following questions in the discussion forum:

  • Who owns material culture?
  • Should members of specific cultural groups be entitled to art and artifacts that are part of their heritage and identity?
    • Using the example of the Elgin Marbles, explain how our ethics and concerns over maintaining the cultural heritage of “others” has changed over time.
    • Do you agree or disagree with Lord Elgin’s 19th-century collection methods?
    • Should the scholarly value of the works outweigh issues of Greek cultural heritage?
    • Do you think Greece still has a claim on the marbles or not?
    • Defend your position against those students who disagree with you.
  • Examine the larger ideas within the controversy.
    • Why are original artworks important?
    • If these marbles were stolen, how does this change your idea of the museum?
    • How do you see the role of the museum (past and present) and how are museums evolving to deal with problematic accessions?

Provide new insight, examples, and perspectives for those who do not agree with your point of view, and add further information or knowledge to those you agree with. Post two or more replies.


To receive full credit students must do the following:

  • Write 1 substantive original response* to all parts of the question before the initial posting deadline.**
    * Responses should be a minimum of 200 words.
  • Include an image that refers to your post, properly cited references and resources in MLA format.
    • Photographic references should be labeled to include artist name, title, date, and media (when available).
    • Downsize all images to 500 px or less before embedding them into your post.

Essay: Mind of an Artist Instructions


You will consider the critical thinking process of artists by researching and analyzing the use of preparatory drawings/cartoons by a Renaissance artist (circa mid 1400’s-mid 1500’s). Review the Rubric.


Critical thinking helps us learn, develop new ideas, and formulate theories. “Critical thinking” has been defined as “self-guided, self-disciplined thinking which attempts to reason at the highest level of quality in a fair-minded way” (The Foundation for Critical Thinking website).

Sometimes artists use drawing as a visual process of critical thinking, allowing them to see their subject from copious perspectives within numerous contexts. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the Renaissance era drawings of artists like Leonardo da Vinci or Michelangelo, or in the nature studies of Albrecht Dürer. Critical thinking can also be found in the schematic and preliminary drawings of modern artists, including sculptors and architects.

Step 1: Research

Using the CCCOnline Library Art Research Guide and sources, the sites listed below, or comparable sites, research Renaissance drawings as a basis for your essay. Major artists of the Renaissance produced large quantities of “cartoons”—sketches used as studies for larger works. Although these drawings were not usually considered art at the time, many did survive and are now proudly exhibited in museum collections.

Recommended Research Sources:

Step 2: Writing

Essay (800 – 1200 Words)

First, insert an image file of the Renaissance preparatory drawing you have chosen to write about. Review the information regarding “thesis statements” in Module 1 Read/View resource, Writing Skills Development: Developing a Thesis Statement. In your thesis statement, identify the artist who created the drawing, the subject of the drawing, and explain how the artist is using the art as part of their critical thinking process.

In your essay’s body paragraphs, explain what the artist was studying. Begin your draft by considering the following questions:

  • What did this artist hope to accomplish?
  • Were preliminary sketches a normal part of the artist’s process?
  • How did other perspectives and contexts affect their subject matter, technique, concept, etc.?
  • Give a specific example from your chosen image to support your statement.

Conclude by explaining why critical thinking furthers this artist’s studies, plans, and goals, and how drawing aids them in this process.

Basic Information for All Essay Submissions:

Create a “Works Cited” section that lists your 3+ scholarly sources in MLA Style format at the end of your paper. Be sure you have properly cited any direct quotes you use in support of your own writing. For help with MLA Style citations, visit the suggested links in the Art Research Guide or look here in this course under Content > Syllabus > Research.

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