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In this activity, pupils will explore art and design from different cultures and produce a piece of artwork (painting, sculpture or textile) reflecting designs from another country. They will use their visit to the Museum to research art and design influences from either India, China, Japan or the Islamic world.


Art and Design
'Investigating art, craft and design from a range of historical, social and cultural contexts.'


Here you will find some ideas to help you prepare yourself and your pupils for a visit to the British Galleries.


We strongly recommend that you visit the Museum prior to bringing your class. This will give you a much clearer idea of how you can use the galleries. We suggest that you familiarise yourself with the spaces in the British Galleries and the route to them from the Exhibition Road entrance. Spend some time exploring the subjects displayed in the following galleries:

Britain 1500-1714
Fashionable Living - 'Imported Luxuries'Gallery 56
Britain and the IndiesGallery 56

Britain 1714-1837
Style - 'Chinoiserie 1750-65'Gallery 52
 'Chinese and Indian Styles 1800-1830'Gallery 120

Britain 1837-1900
Style - 'Influence of Japan 1850-1900'Gallery 125
 'Influences from Beyond Europe 1840-1900'Gallery 125

Explore some of the gallery interactives. These have not been designed for use by school groups but you might find them useful for supporting information. The following are particularly relevant:

Style GuideGalleries 54, 56, 58, 118, 120, 122
Questions of Design:Gallery 52
How Chinese was Chinoiserie?Gallery 52
Spot the Difference:
Indian or English printed cotton textile
Gallery 125

Decide how long you are going to spend in the Museum and which galleries you are going to use. This activity is based on the British Galleries and the Museum tasks have been designed to take half a day. There are other galleries relevant to exploring art and design from other cultures that you might want to visit if you have more time. For a list of other galleries, to find out more about design influences from India, China, Japan and the Islamic world and to view some images see supporting information.


Ask pupils to identify influences on their lives from other cultures, e.g. in fashion, music or the food they eat. What things do they own that were made in other parts of the world?

Bring in some examples of different styles of artwork from different times and cultures. Ask pupils to think about the use of colour, shape, motifs, style.

Divide the class into four groups before you get to the Museum. Each group will focus on one culture (Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Islamic). Ask pupils to research examples of art and design from one of these cultures before they visit the Museum. They could start a sketch book for this purpose which they could continue to use in the Museum.


Pupils should be divided into four groups, each with a helper. They should use their time in the Museum to gather examples of art and design from their chosen country/culture through sketching, making notes and taking photographs. They could use their own sketchbooks and/or the worksheets available on this site.

Pupils could focus on one or more of the following themes:

Subjects from nature
Pupils could draw shapes and decoration linked to the natural world

Motifs and symbols
Pupils could start by choosing one motif (flowers, for example) and drawing variations found on different artefacts.

Pattern and shape
Pupils could find and draw examples of simple and complex patterns and shapes.


Pupils should develop the designs and ideas they recorded at the Museum to produce an artwork (e.g. painting, textile, sculpture). This should show elements of design from the country or culture that they explored at the Museum. They could choose to develop designs that would be a appropriate for an object type that they saw at the Museum. For example:

Islamic worldIndividual tile or tile panel

They should then produce a design brief in which they set out their ideas and how they wish to develop them, having chosen the medium in which they will produce their piece of work.

In producing their work, they could experiment with different visual characteristics (patterns, naturalistic motifs, simple shapes) stemming from the designs they researched at the Museum. During the process of making, pupils should document the different stages and record any problems they encountered and how they tried to solve them.

Once complete, ask pupils to evaluate their own work and the work of their peers by thinking about the style of the work, development of ideas, visual characteristics and how they were influenced by the art and design from different cultures that they saw in the Museum.


We are keen to get your feedback on this activity as well as any suggestions for other ways of using the British Galleries. Use the online evaluation form here

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Programmes of work | Design a worksheet | Tell us what you think | How to book | British Galleries Website