Bringing Monet’s Water Lilies into the classroom

| By: Nathan Sprehe
Nathan Sprehe

Recently, the St. Louis Art Museum approached us with an interesting opportunity: help the Museum create an online resource centered around one of the key works of art in their collection, Claude Monet’s Water Lilies.

The timing was perfect. The Museum had recently launched a new exhibition, giving the public our first opportunity in 30 years to see Water Lilies as the artist intended: together with the additional two original panels to form the Agapanthus triptych, a sprawling 42′ immersive environment. Monet become best known for his deep exploration of light and color, especially when it came to his water lily pond, which he obsessively painted for 25 years. This was an exciting opportunity to further explore this work and the connections surrounding it.

We thought about it for a half a second and accepted.

Visit the site:

Intended to live on after the exhibition concluded, this online tool needed to allow teachers and educators to dig deeper into themes surrounding Monet’s life and work. From the onset, we approached this project with curiosity and discovery in mind. Visitors have the option to explore by theme–investigating connections between Monet & Japanese art or parallels in Water Lilies and works of later Abstract Expressionist artists. Alternatively, users may explore by date–scrolling through important works and events on a timeline, or switch to the location view to see how everything relates on a Google map. In the resources section, worksheets and learning guides are available for download and use in the classroom.

Built with WordPress, Museum staff can edit and update all aspects of the site, which means that over time this resource will continue to evolve and grow.

We truly enjoyed every aspect of this project! While we hope this teaching & learning resource helps people develop a deeper understanding of Monet’s life and work, we think Monet said it best himself:

“Everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love.” – Claude Monet