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Art History Timeline Staircase Poster Review by Christy Schaefer

Tracy Boberg Nichols

Art history or art appreciation is not one of the subjects that I ever considered important when I was a student myself. However, through a desperate need to complete my high school fine arts credit, I was introduced to the world of art in an amazing art history course. That class opened up for me an entirely new world and gave me an appreciation of art that has been a constant joy in my life. I even took an unneeded art appreciation course my last semester of college simply because it was going to be a bright spot in a very difficult semester.

Fast-forward many years and I'm homeschooling my own high-school age daughter who, despite being quite a bit more artistic than me, has not yet discovered the beauty and joy that comes from studying art of the past. She misses out of many of the cultural references that comes art as well.  I desperately want for her what the forced art history class gave me. Yet, I've struggled in finding the right tool to help us in such a study.  While I love to study and observe art, I do not feel confident in leading her without a well-designed and thoughtful curriculum or study.

Recently, we had the opportunity to use the Art History Timeline Staircase Poster by Tracy Nichols ($39.95 with free shipping in the U.S.). It's a rather large poster (5 ft x 2ft) in sepia tones that stair steps history with Prehistoric Times along the bottom and then starts the stair step with the 3500s BC.  The stair step moves diagonally upward in 100 year increments with facts about how various forms of art evolved.  Between the diagonals of the steps are captioned pictures of art associated with the historical time and paragraphs providing insight and details about the artistic period.

As the timeline weaves diagonally across and up the poster, we learn about art from the Old Kingdom, Middle Kingdom and New Kingdom of Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient Roman Republic, Classical Ancient Roman Empire, Early Middle Ages (Dark Ages), Viking Age, Muslim Conquests, High Middle Ages, Gothic Period, Mongol Empire, Renaissance, Age of Exploration, Age of Enlightenment, Industrial Revolution, and Modern Age.  

The top portion of the poster expands the timeline for the Age of Enlightenment forward (1700s to today), which includes the art eras of Rococo, Neoclassicism, Romanticism, Realism, Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Expressionism, Modern Art, Cubism, Surrealism, Pop Art, Contemporary, and Postmodern Art.  Additionally, the top section lists vertically all of the major art periods including their years from Byzantine & Islamic Art in the year 476 to the present time.

This poster alone provides a wealth of information to use as a starting point for a fantastic study of the major art of each period in history. One could easily incorporate a small amount of art history for any age student within their existing history course by simply consulting the poster for concurrent art history.

However, the creator of the poster also kindly provides a free 60+ page downloadable book of companion lessons for the poster ( These lessons include a little more information about artistic periods while posing questions that require the students to search the timeline carefully. 

We found the poster to be an easy way for my daughter to begin her journey through art history even though her time this school year is very limited with an array of other classes.  The beauty of this poster is that any age student, from the earliest elementary child to adult can use the poster to learn more about art throughout time at their own level.

-Product review by Christy Schaefer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March, 2017