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Birkbeck students explore iconic Parisian art and history with academic rigour

The annual field trip for History of Art students took place in Paris this year.

A woman in the foreground takes notes during a guided tour of a gallery. Behind her are people listening to a guide. The woman in the foreground smiles as she takes notes.

This year’s History of Art field trip saw thirty students of various academic levels embark on an exploration of Parisian art and history. Led by Birkbeck academics, Dr Allison Deutsch and Dr Zoe Opacic, specialists in nineteenth-century and medieval Paris respectively, the trip offered an immersive experience and was timed to coincide with two significant exhibitions; Paris 1874: Inventing Impressionism at the Musée d'Orsay, and the retrospective exhibit on famous abstract artist Mark Rothko at Fondation Louis Vuitton. 

The itinerary included visiting and discussing renowned landmarks and museums such as the Louvre, the Musée d'Orsay, the Cluny, Saint-Chapelle, the Petit Palais, and the Musée Marmottan Monet, along with architectural tours of medieval churches. For students, witnessing artworks they had studied firsthand added depth to their academic pursuits, providing fresh perspectives. 

Richard Taffler, studying MA History of Art, commented: I would highly recommend the trip to all students studying History of Art at Birkbeck. It really augmented our work in class - being able to view first-hand many of the original works we discussed gave a fantastic new perspective to our academic studies. The experience was convivial and a fantastic opportunity to get to know fellow students and our lecturers better. To be able to visit the 1874 Impressionist Exhibition and the other museums and galleries together with our lecturers who could not have been more helpful and knowledgeable felt a real privilege.” 

Another student, Rose Astor, studying BA History of Art, said: The 2024 trip to Paris was wonderful! We had a truly welcoming and friendly group, and two incredible leaders in Allison and Zoe; their extensive knowledge of such different eras of French art and architecture was amazing. It was brilliant to explore the museums and architectural delights of Paris with interesting and like-minded people."  

Recognising the trip’s role in fostering academic growth and cultural appreciation, Dr Deutsch and Dr Opacic expressed gratitude for the students' enthusiasm and energy, commenting: “We are looking forward to planning the next adventure.” 

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