Image Credits: View of Almshouse, ca.1900, Artist Unknown, oil on canvas, H.24 x W.20.125 inches, James A. Michener Art Museum, Anonymous Gift; Roy C.Nuse, (1885-1975), Age of Speed, 1920, oil on canvas, H. 35.25 x W. 40 inches, James A. Michener Art Museum. Museum purchase with assistance from the Nuse family

About This Resource

Note for Teachers: Use the video to encourage students to explore various narratives in artworks and inspire them to create a their own story by looking closely at works of art.

Grade Level (s): Grades 4-5; 6-8

Subject Area (s): Visual Arts, Language Arts


For thousands of years, humans have used images to tell stories. These narratives can be presented in different ways – either by one central image to represent the whole story or by using a series of images that represent moments in a story. Works of art in the Museum’s collection like Midnight Muster – December 23, 1776 by Charles Hargens and Lloyd Ney’s, Study for New London Facets are examples of these types of narratives.

In art history, Western art until the 20th century has included narrative works that illustrate famous stories from religion, history, literature,  or mythology. It was assumed that people were familiar with the stories presented in the artworks. Artists can also invent their own stories, leaving the viewer to imagine the narrative, just like we see in View of Almshouse by an unknown painter or Age of Speed by Roy Nuse.

But beyond Western art, narrative art can be powerful – it can spark the imagination and capture stories that connect all cultures, capturing universal emotions and truths. Exploring these stories allow us to learn about other times, places, cultures, peoples and perspectives. How do you use images to create your stories? You might use them in social media with apps like Instagram or Snapchat.

Art also often leads us to construct our own personal stories. Listen to Michener docents Barbara and Leslie discuss View of Almshouse and Age of Speed in this video below. What stories can you tell about these works of art? Write about them using the activity sheet below. Be sure to look at the works of art in high resolution on Google Arts and Culture. Share you stories with us in the comment section below!

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