“A Piece of the Past” Museum Essay Contest Essay Requirements



Cover Sheet

The cover sheet should include the following information:
  • Full Name
  • H#
  • Email address
  • Museum Category you are competing in (“Southern”, “Decorative,” Dunham,” “Art,” or “Academy”)
  • Freshman status (if applicable)
  • Name of Artifact or Artwork
  • Word Count (you may include or exclude the cover sheet, title, and citations in determining word count)
  • Title of Your Essay (centered on page)

First Page of the Essay

The first page of the essay should repeat the essay title but should not include any other identifying information. The text of the essay should begin  2” down the page.  Do not include your name on the first page or any subsequent page of he essay.

Electronic Submission

To submit your essay, you must be enrolled in a special “Museum Essay Contest” course page on Blackboard. If you do not already see the course on your Blackboard page, follow these instructions to enroll:
  • Step 1: Go to “hbu.blackboard.com” and login with your HBU OneLogin information.
  • Step 2: Click on the “My Courses” tab and find the “Course Search” navigator.
  • Step 3: Type in the course “Museum Essay Contest.”
  • Step 4: Once the course pops up, click the drop
    box next to the class name and select ‘Enroll’ (pick “Org 2” if “Org 1” also appears).
  • Step 5: Select ‘Submit.’
  • Step 6: You’re In! Once you are enrolled, select the Contest 2019-2020 folder and submit your paper to the appropriate category folder.

References/Citation Styles

You may use any of the standard citation styles such as MLA, Chicago, or Turabian. Whichever you choose, be sure to use it consistently throughout the essay.

The essay should include a Works Cited page or a Bibliography page, as required by the chosen style. Such a page alone, however, does not count as sufficient citation. Each piece of information in your essay must be properly sourced, either in a footnote, endnote, or parentheses following the use in the body of your essay.


Essay Themes

You may choose any artifact or work of art in any of the five museums.  Excluded are explanatory displays, facsimiles and reproductions.

Southern History Museum, Museum of American Architecture and Decorative Arts, and Dunham Bible Museum

For these museums, your essay should combine knowledge of the artifact itself with an understanding of its broader historical context and significance.  Your ultimate aim should be to enhance the viewer’s appreciation of the artifact.

In preparing your essay, please consider the following:

  1. The artifact as a physical object: What is your artifact made of? What is its size, shape? When was it made? For whom was it made? For what purpose was it made? Is this a unique piece or one of many? Who has owned it?
  2. The artifact in historical context: What broader historical trend does your artifact illustrate? What particular historical event has it played a role in? What prevailing cultural value does it express?
  3. The artifact as a museum piece: What impression does the artifact make upon you as a museum piece? How might that impression differ had you encountered it in its original historical setting?
*Please be sure to correctly identify which museum holds your artifact. If you are uncertain, ask the museum staff for clarification.*

Fine Arts Museum and Contemporary Art Gallery

For the art category, write on one of the works in the Fine Arts Museum or the Contemporary Art Gallery. Please consider the following:
  • The period in which the work was created, the style, and the historical context.
  • The artist and the most likely intent of the work.
  • In what ways does this work demonstrate the properties of Beauty that come to us from Plato,  Aristotle and Aquinas:  Proportion, symmetry, integrity of design, clarity, and unity?
  • In what way does this work demonstrate Truth or Goodness?


Judging Criteria

In judging the essays, the judges will take into consideration the following:
  1. Requirements: (Does the essay conform to all the requirements?)
  2. Grammar: (Is the essay grammatically correct?
  3. Style (Is the writing clear and in good style?)
  4. Thesis Statement  (Is the thesis statement clear?)
  5. Organization (How clear and coherent is the organization of the essay?)
  6. Historical Context/Significance  (How clearly and effectively does th essay explain the object’s historical context and its significance as an artifact/art?)
  7. Research (How substantial and effective is the research presented in the essay?)

The judges reserve the right to disqualify essays that do not meet the basic requirements as to format, presentation, and citation explained above.

Printable essay guidelines PDF version and sample of page formatting.