An Archaeologist Creates the Definitive Guide to Beer Cans

Image via Wikimedia Commons

As a beverage of choice and necessity for much of the population in parts of the ancient world, beer has played an important role in archaeology. Beer cans, on the other hand, have not. Unlike millennia-old recipes, beer cans seem like no more than trash, even in a field where trash is highly treasured. This is a mistake, says archeologist Jane Busch. “The historical archaeologist who ignores the beer can at his site is like the prehistoric archeologist who ignores historic pottery.”

David Maxwell, an expert in animal bones who trained as a Mayanist, has recognized the truth of this statement by turning his passion for beer can collecting into beer can archaeology, a tiny niche within the smaller field of “tin can archaeology.” Maxwell became the reigning expert on beer can dating when “in 1993, he published a field-identification guide in Historical Archaeology,” notes Jessica Gingrich at Atlas Obscura, “which has since become an industry standard and his most-read work.”




The first commercial canned beer appeared in 1935, after several unsuccessful experiments starting in 1909. Experiments in beer canning took a hiatus during Prohibition, and canned beer itself went off the market during WWII as supplies of tin plate were rerouted to the war effort. During that interregnum, only the military shipped canned beer, to soldiers overseas in olive and camo-colored cans. When sales resumed after the war, beer cans assumed more routinized design elements. Maxwell himself became fascinated with beer cans from afar. “While canned beer sales exploded in the United States after World War II, Gingrich writes, “the industry failed to take off in Canada until the 1980s.”

As a child in Canada, Maxwell collected bottle caps. “All the beer came in the same shape bottle,” he says. Cans seemed exotic, especially those of an older vintage. “They had punches to open them instead of pull rings, and all I knew was that they predated me.” The value of disposable artifacts less than 100 years old isn’t immediately apparent to most people, says Jim Rock, a pioneer of tin can studies who calls cans “the Rodney Dangerfield of archeology. They just don’t get any respect.” But the fact is “all archeology is garbage,” says Maxwell.

Dating cans gives archeologists a picture of modern consumption patterns — and patterns of ecological destruction — in the refuse tossed on highways and the strata of trash found in construction sites, landfills, and even ancient dig sites, where dating beer cans can tell archeologists when earlier trespassers might have arrived, removed or altered artifacts, and left their trash behind. Maxwell, who has recently downsized his collection from 4500 to 1700 cans to save space, admits that a narrow focus on the beer can takes a special combination of skills.

“Collectors are a fabulous resource for academics,” he says. “These are the guys who do the grunt work” — the endlessly curious citizen scientists of archaeology. “I can’t think of anyone else who would do that except someone who is obsessive about what it is that they are collecting.” In Maxwell, the obsessive collector and rigorous academic just happened to come together to produce the definitive guide. (See Beer Cans: A Guide for the Archaeologist online.) But even he has had to “face the question of what deserves to be archived and kept,” Nicola Jones writes at Sapiens. In discarding 3,000 of his own cans, most of them acquired through collectors online, he had to admit that “though the rusty cans were a part of history, they weren’t worth much to the rest of the world.”

Related Content:

Beer Archaeology: Yes, It’s a Thing

The Science of Beer: A New Free Online Course Promises to Enhance Your Appreciation of the Timeless Beverage

The First Known Photograph of People Sharing a Beer (1843)

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Build Wooden Models of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Great Building: The Guggenheim, Unity Temple, Johnson Wax Headquarters & More

Frank Lloyd Wright had his eccentricities, in not just his personal and professional conduct but also the very language with which he described the world. Among the enduringly fascinating elements of his idiolect is the word Usonian, which refers to things of or pertaining to the United States of America.  Wright didn’t coin the term: its earliest recorded user is the early 20th-century writer James Duff Law, who declared that “We of the United States, in justice to Canadians and Mexicans, have no right to use the title ‘Americans’ when referring to matters pertaining exclusively to ourselves.” The most famous architect in American history took Usonian further, using it to label an American architectural sensibility — of, naturally, his own design.

Though Wright did envision an ideally Usonian city, his clearest expressions of the aesthetic stand today in the form of the Usonian houses. Built between 1934 and 1958, these sixty or so residences take advantage, as Wright saw it, of the range of distinctive settings offered up by the landscapes of the United States.




Designed with features like garden terraces, clerestory windows, flat roofs with wide overhangs, and easy visual and physical passage between the indoors and outdoors, these urban-rural hybrids still today draw the admiration of architects and non-architects alike. But truly to understand a Usonian house, perhaps you must build one yourself: luckily, the Little Building Company offers a model kit that lets you do just that.

Their Wright lineup also includes miniature wooden versions of his 1908 Unity Temple in Oak Park, his 1937 Johnson Wax Headquarters in Racine, and his 1937 Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. The differences in scale and complexity between these buildings make for a natural model-building difficulty curve: once you’ve done a Wright house, you’ll be ready for a Wright temple; once you’ve done a Wright temple, you’ll be ready for a Wright corporate headquarters, and so on. Not only will the effort hone your manual dexterity, it will heighten your appreciation for the American architecture-defining innovations Wright pulled off in the early 20th century. But do you have to be from the United States to understand the Usonian? Based in Australia and selling to the world, the Little Building Company suggests not.

via MyModernMet

Related Content:

12 Famous Frank Lloyd Wright Houses Offer Virtual Tours: Hollyhock House, Taliesin West, Fallingwater & More

Frank Lloyd Wright Designs an Urban Utopia: See His Hand-Drawn Sketches of Broadacre City (1932)

The Modernist Gas Stations of Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe

How Frank Lloyd Wright’s Son Invented Lincoln Logs, “America’s National Toy” (1916)

That Far Corner: Frank Lloyd Wright in Los Angeles – a Free Online Documentary

Omoshiroi Blocks: Japanese Memo Pads Reveal Intricate Buildings As The Pages Get Used

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Watch Lost Studio Footage of Brian Wilson Conducting “Good Vibrations,” The Beach Boys’ Brilliant “Pocket Symphony”

After Brian Wilson created what Hendrix called the “psychedelic barbershop quartet” sound of the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, he moved on to what he promised would be another quantum leap beyond. “Our new album,” Smile, he claimed, “will be as much an improvement over Sounds as that was over Summer Days.” But in his pursuit to almost single-handedly surpass the Beatles in the art of studio perfectionism, Wilson overreached. He famously scrapped the Smile sessions, and instead released the hastily-recorded Smiley Smile to fulfill contract obligations in 1967.

Smiley Smile’s peculiar genius went unrecognized at the time, particularly because its centerpiece, “Good Vibrations,” had set expectations so high. Recorded and released as a single in 1966, the song would be referred to as  a “pocket symphony” (a phrase invented either by Wilson himself or publicist Derek Taylor). Even the jaded session players who sat in for the hours of recording — veterans from the famed “Wrecking Crew” — knew they were making something that transcended the usual rut of pop simplicity.




“We were doing two, three record dates a day,” says organ player Mike Melvoin, “and the level of sophistication was, like, not really sophisticated at all.” The “Good Vibrations” sessions were another experience entirely. “All of a sudden, you walk in, and here’s run-on songs. It’s like this section followed by that section followed by this section, and each of them with a completely different character. And you’re going, ‘Whoa.’” Wrecking Crew bassist Carol Kay, who sat in for the sessions but didn’t make the final mix, remembers thinking, “that wasn’t your normal rock ‘n’ roll…. You were part of a symphony.”

Wilson’s pop symphonies were created and arranged not on paper but during the recording sessions themselves, which accounted for the 90 hours of tape and tens of thousands of dollars in expenses, the most money ever spent on a pop single. He made creative decisions according to what he called “feels,” fragments of melody and sound that formed his avant-garde pastiches. “Each feel represented a mood or an emotion I’d felt,” he recalled, “and I planned to fit them together like a mosaic.” Not everyone could see the plan at first.

But when Wilson finally emerged from months of isolation after cutting and mixing hours and hours of tape, the rest of the band was “very blown out,” he says. “They were most blown out. They said, ‘Goddamn, how can you possibly do this, Brian?’ I said, ‘Something got inside of me.’… They go, ‘Well, it’s fantastic.’ And so they sang really good just to show me how much they liked it.” In the edited footage at the top, taken over the six months of recording in four different studios, you can see drummer Hal Blaine, organ player Mick Melvoin, double bass player Lyle Ritz, and the Beach Boys themselves all recording their parts.

To the press, Wilson told one story — “Good Vibrations” was “still sticking pretty close to that same boy-girl thing, you know, but with a difference. And it’s a start, it’s definitely a start.” But the song — which he first wanted to call “Good Vibes” — is very much meant to suggest “the healthy emanations that should result from psychic tranquility and inner peace,” wrote Bruce Golden in The Beach Boys: Southern California Pastoral. In that sense, “Good Vibrations” was aspirational, almost tragically so, for Wilson, who could not fulfill its promises. Yet, in another sense, “Good Vibrations” is itself the fulfillment of Wilson’s creative promise, an eternally brilliant “pocket symphony” — and as Wilson told engineer Chuck Britz during the sessions, his “whole life performance in one track.”

Related Content: 

The Magic of the Beach Boys’ Harmonies: Hear Isolated Vocals from “Sloop John B.,” “God Only Knows,” “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” & Other Pet Sounds Classics

The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson & Beatles Producer George Martin Break Down “God Only Knows,” the “Greatest Song Ever Written”

How the Beach Boys Created Their Pop Masterpieces: “Good Vibrations,” Pet Sounds, and More

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

The Black Film Archive: A New Site Highlights 200+ Noteworthy Black Films Made Between 1915-1979

The just launched Black Film Archive is a labor of love for the Criterion Collection, thanks to audience strategist, Maya Cade.

Beginning in June 2020, she began researching films produced between 1915 to 1979 that are available for streaming, and “have something significant to say about the Black experience; speak to Black audiences; and/or have a Black star, writer, producer, or director.”

Thus far, she’s collected over 200 films, spanning the period between 1915’s Black-produced silent slapstick short, Two Knights of Vaudeville and 1978’s starry big budget musical, The Wiz, a commercial flop that “major Hollywood studios used … as a reason to stop investing in Black cinema.”




Cade reasons that the rise of Black independent film in the 80s makes 1979 “feel like a natural stopping point” for the archive. She’s also pushing back against the notion of Black Films as trauma porn:

As debates about Black film’s association with trauma rage on, I hope Black Film Archive can offer a different lens through which to understand Black cinematic history, one that takes into consideration the full weight of the past. Through this lens, it is easy to see that the notion that “Black films are only traumatic” is based on generalizations and impressions of recent times (often pinned to the success of films like 12 Years a Slave) rather than a deeper engagement with history, which reveals that “slave films” constitute only a small percentage of the Black films that have been made. I hope conversations evolve to consider the expansive archive of radical ideas and expression found in Black films’ past.

The collection, which Cade will be updating monthly, has something for everyone — comedy, drama, documentaries, musicals, silent films, foreign films, and yes, Blaxploitation.

Some of the titles — To Sir with LoveA Raisin in the SunShaft — are far from obscure, and you’ll find appearances by many Black performers and documentary subjects whose legacies endure: Paul RobesonCicely TysonSidney PoitierJosephine BakerDorothy DandridgeBilly Dee Williams and Richard PryorMuhammad AliMalcolm XLightnin’ Hopkins….

But the archive is also a wonderful opportunity to discover directors, performers, and films with which you may be utterly unfamiliar.

Black Girl, 1966, was the first feature of Ousmane Sembène, the father of African cinema, and the first feature made in Africa by a sub-Saharan African to attract international notice. It follows a Senegalese domestic worker serving a wealthy white family on the Côte d’Azur. Early on Diouana is seen working in the kitchen, naively dreaming of adventures that surely await once she’s finished preparing “a real African dish” for her employer’s dinner guests:

Maybe we’ll go to Cannes, Nice, Monte Carlo. We’ll look in all the pretty stores and when the mistress pays me, I’ll buy pretty dresses, shoes, silk undies, and pretty wigs. And I’ll get my picture taken on the beach, and I’ll send it back to Dakar, and they’ll all die of jealousy!

One of several adaptations of Timothy Shay Arthur’s popular 1854 temperance novel, The Colored Players Film Corporation of Philadelphia’s 1926 melodrama, Ten Nights in a Bar Room, features a star turn by the multi-talented Charles Gilpin, the most successful Black stage performer of the early 20th Century.

The Emperor Jones may have provided Paul Robeson with his iconic, breakthrough role, but the part was first played onstage by Gilpin, who was fired by playwright Eugene O’Neill after it was discovered he was repeatedly swapping out the script’s many instances of the N-word for gentler terms like “Black boy.”

As Indy Week’s Byron Woods notes in a preview of N, Adrienne Earle Pender’s play about O’Neill and Gilpin:

A 1921 review in Negro World concluded, “We imagine if Mr. Gilpin is an intelligent and loyal Negro, his heart must ache and rebel within him as he is forced to belie his race.” When the work was staged in Harlem, Langston Hughes recalled that the audience “howled with laughter.”

The Oscar nominated The Quiet One, from 1948, was the first major American film to position a Black child — 10-year old non-actor Donald Thompson — front and center.

Ostensibly a documentary, it took an unflinching look at the emotionally turbulent existence of a neglected Harlem boy, and offered no easy solutions, even as he begins to come out of his shell at the Wiltwyck School for Boys.

The cast, including a number of students from the Wiltwyck School, is almost entirely Black, with Ulysses Kay’s jazz score providing an urgent pulse to real life scenes of mid-century Harlem.

The white production team featured several high profile, socially conscious names — novelist and film critic James Agee contributed poetic commentary and photographer Helen Levitt was one of two principal camera people.

Currently, the Black Film Archive is organized by decade, though we hope one day this might be expanded to encompass genres, as well as a search option that would allow viewers to discover work by director and performers.

For now, Cade’s curator picks are an excellent place to begin your explorations.

This mammoth undertaking is a self-funded one-woman operation. Donations are welcome, as are paid subscriptions to the Black Film Archive Substack.

Related Content: 

Watch Free Films by African American Filmmakers in the Criterion Collection … and the New Civil Rights Film, Just Mercy

Watch the First-Ever Kiss on Film Between Two Black Actors, Just Honored by the Library of Congress (1898)

Watch the Pioneering Films of Oscar Micheaux, America’s First Great African-American Filmmaker

Watch Lime Kiln Club Field Day, One of the Earliest Surviving Feature Films with an All Black Cast (1913)

Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Two Haruki Murakami Stories Adapted into Short Films: Watch Attack on a Bakery (1982) and A Girl, She Is 100% (1983)

At this year’s Cannes Film Festival, the Award for Best Screenplay went to Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Drive My Car, an adaptation of a story by Haruki Murakami. So did FIPRESCI Prize, the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury, and no small amount of critical acclaim, suggesting that the code for translating Murakami onto the screen might finally have been cracked. Every now and again over the past forty years, a bold filmmaker has taken on the challenge of turning a work of that most world-famous Japanese novelist into a feature. But until recently, the results have for the most part not been received as especially consequential in and of themselves.

In general, short fiction tends to produce more satisfying adaptations than full-fledged novels, and Murakami’s work seems not to be an exception (as underscored a few years ago by Korean auteur Lee Chang-dong’s Burning). Hamaguchi’s film spins some 40 pages into a running time of nearly three hours, doing the opposite of what other Japanese filmmakers have done with Murakami’s short stories. In 1982, Naoto Yamakawa made one of them into Attack on a Bakery, a short film running less than twenty minutes; the following year, he made another into the even shorter A Girl, She is 100%, running less than fifteen. Today Murakami fans everywhere can watch them both on Youtube, complete with English subtitles.




The material will feel familiar to English-language Murakami readers. A main character of the story “The Second Bakery Attack” reminisces about a robbery he attempted as a hungry young man that went comically off the rails, in a manner similar to the one in Yamakawa’s first short. (In 2010 “The Second Bakery Attack,” wherein the now-married narrator robs a fast-food joint with his new bride, itself became a short film directed by Carlos Cuarón, brother of Alfonso.) Though “The Bakery Attack” has never been officially published in English, “On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning” has, and it now stands as one of Murakami’s representative short works in that language; it also, in the original, provides the basis for A Girl, She Is 100%.

“She doesn’t stand out in any way,” Murakami’s narrator says of the titular figure. “Her clothes are nothing special. The back of her hair is still bent out of shape from sleep. She isn’t young, either — must be near thirty, not even close to a ‘girl,’ properly speaking. But still, I know from fifty yards away: She’s the 100% perfect girl for me.” Yamakawa dramatizes a similar fleeting encounter and the romantic speculations that resonate in the man’s mind. Like the half-baked philosophical and political convictions of the would-be robbers, these inspire the director to the kind of visual and formal inventiveness one would expect given his background in Godard and Scorsese scholarship. But the only filmmaker name-checked is Woody Allen, which fans will recognize as a characteristic Murakami reference. So as are the inclusions of Wagner, D.H. Lawrence, jazz music — and of course, an unexpected cat.

Related Content:

Read 12 Stories By Haruki Murakami Free Online

Discover Haruki Murakami’s Advertorial Short Stories: Rare Short-Short Fiction from the 1980s

Haruki Murakami’s Passion for Jazz: Discover the Novelist’s Jazz Playlist, Jazz Essay & Jazz Bar

A 3,350-Song Playlist of Music from Haruki Murakami’s Personal Record Collection

Memoranda: Haruki Murakami’s World Recreated as a Classic Adventure Video Game

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

An 18-Year-Old Spends a Year Alone Building a Log Cabin in the Swedish Wilderness: Watch from Start to Finish

Henry David Thoreau has at times been upbraided by critics for “everyone’s favorite incriminating biographical factoid,” writes Donovan Hohn at The New Republic: “During the two years he spent at Walden Pond, his mother sometimes did his laundry.” The author who became “America’s original nature boy “played at rugged self-sufficiency,” it is said, “while squatting on borrowed land, in a house built with a borrowed axe”; he played at rugged individualism while relying on friends and family to support him.

Who did Erik Grankvist’s laundry, we might wonder, while he built a log cabin alone during the year he recorded in the edited video above? Grankvist shows how, at 18, he “ventured out alone with only a backpack full of simple hand tools to actualize my dream… [to] build my own traditional off grid log cabin by hand from the materials of the Swedish wilderness. Just like our Forefathers did.” You may notice, or not, the cleanliness of Grankvist’s clothing. You may wonder, “who washed his forefathers’ clothes?”…




Or, you might say, “this isn’t a video about laundry but about building a log cabin!” And you would be correct. As an experiment in building a log cabin from scratch with (mostly) just a few hand tools, it is an extraordinary document: “I had no previous experience in building, gathering materials or filming,” Grankvist writes. “So I started studying myself the old arts and learning from my grandfather and mentor Åke Nilsson. I began to cut down trees and film with my phone, learning as I go.”

The project really picked up steam once Grankvist graduated high school, he writes, suggesting he did not actually live full time in the woods but that someone fed, housed, and clothed him while he worked. We see none of this in the video. We do see a tractor at one point, and Grankvist admits he’d rather the modern extravagance have been a horse.

Does it ruin the magic a little to wonder about the mundane details of the builder’s life — food, clothing, healthcare, etc. — while watching him cut his own timber, clear the land, build a stone foundation and, on top of it, a rustic little cabin? Maybe a little. But as extraordinary as it is to watch an 18-year-old Swede build a log cabin by himself, one also can’t help but remember it takes a village worth of forefathers, and mothers, to make an 18-year-old Swede. But Grankvist does not present his visual Walden as a how-to guide (any more than Thoreau did), but as his own statement of independence, one worth making even if it doesn’t tell the full truth about self-sufficiency.

Related Content: 

Japanese Carpenters Unearth 100-Year-Old Wood Joineries While Taking Apart a Traditional House

How Frank Lloyd Wright’s Son Invented Lincoln Logs, “America’s National Toy” (1916)

How to Survive the Coming Zombie Apocalypse: An Online Course by Michigan State

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Vintage Public Health Posters That Helped People Take Smart Precautions During Past Crises


We subscribe to the theory that art saves lives even in the best of times.

In the midst of a major public health crisis, art takes a front line position, communicating best practices to citizens with eye catching, easy to understand graphics and a few well chosen words.

In March of 2020, less than 2 weeks after COVID-19 brought New York to its knees, Angelina Lippert, the Chief Curator of Poster House, one of the city’s newer museums shared a blog post, considering the ways in which the CDC’s basic hygiene recommendations for helping stop the spread had been touted to previous generations.




As she noted in a lecture on the history of the poster as Public Service Announcement the following month, “mass public health action… is how we stopped tuberculosis, polio, and other major diseases that we don’t even think of today:”

And a major part of eradicating them was educating the public. That’s really what PSAs are—a means of informing and teaching the public en masse. It goes back to that idea … of not having to seek out information, but just being presented with it. Keeping the barrier for entry low means more people will see and absorb the information.

The Office of War Information and the District of Columbia Society for the Prevention of Blindness used an approachable looking raccoon to convince the public to wash hands in WWII.

Artist Seymour Nydorf swapped the raccoon for a blonde waitress with glamorous red nails in a series of six posters for the U.S. Public Health Service of the Federal Security Agency

Coughing and sneezing took posters into somewhat grosser terrain.

The New Zealand Department of Health’s 50s era poster shamed careless sneezers into using a hankie, and might well have given those in their vicinity a persuasive reason to bypass the buffet table.

Great Britain’s Central Council for Health Education and Ministry of Health collaborated with

Her Majesty’s Stationery Office to teach the public some basic infection math in WWII.

Children’s wellbeing can be a very persuasive tool. The WPA Federal Art Project was not playing in 1941 when it paired an image of a cherubic tot with stern warnings to parents and other family members to curb their affectionate impulses, as well as the transmission of tuberculosis.

The arresting image packs more of a wallop than this earnest and far wordier, early 20s poster by the National Child Welfare Association and the National Association for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis.

Read Poster House Chief Curator Angelina Lippert’s Brief History of PSA Posters here.

Download the free anti-xenophobia PSAs Poster House commissioned from designer Rachel Gingrich early in the pandemic here.

Related Content: 

Download Beautiful Free Posters Celebrating the Achievements of Living Female STEM Leaders

The First Museum Dedicated Exclusively to Poster Art Opens Its Doors in the U.S.: Enter the Poster House

Salvador Dalí Creates a Chilling Anti-Venereal Disease Poster During World War II

Download 2,000 Magnificent Turn-of-the-Century Art Posters, Courtesy of the New York Public Library

Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

MoMA’s Online Courses Let You Study Modern & Contemporary Art and Earn a Certificate

The labels “modern art” and “contemporary art” don’t easily pull apart from one another. In a strictly historical sense, the former refers to art produced in the era we call modernity, beginning in the mid-19th century. And according to its etymology, the latter refers to art produced at the same time as something else: there is art “contemporary” with, say, the Italian Renaissance, but also art “contemporary” with our own lives. You’ll have a much clearer idea of this distinction — and of what people mean when they use the relevant terms today — if you take the Modern and Contemporary Art and Design Specialization, a set of courses from the Museum of Modern Art (aka MoMA) in New York.

Offered on the online education platform Coursera, the Modern and Contemporary Art and Design Specialization promises to “introduce you to the art of our time.” In its first course, Modern Art & Ideas, you’ll learn “how artists have taken inspiration from their environment and responded to social issues over the past 150 years.”




In the second, Seeing through Photographs (whose trailer appears above), you’ll explore photography “from its origins in the mid-1800s through the present.” The third, What Is Contemporary Art?, introduces works of the past four decades “ranging from 3-D-printed glass and fiber sculptures to performances in a factory.” The final course, Fashion as Design, affords the opportunity to “learn from makers working with clothing every day — and, in some cases, reinventing it for the future.”

You can view the entire Contemporary Art and Design Specialization for free, by “auditing” its courses. Alternatively, you can join the paid track, which costs $39 USD per month, which at Coursera’s suggested pace of seven months to complete (including a “hands-on project” for each course) comes out to $273 overall. Then, when you finish the specialization, you’ll “earn a Certificate that you can share with prospective employers and your professional network.” Whether you go the audit or certificate route, you’ll earn an understanding of “modern art” and “contemporary art” as they’re created and regarded here in the 21st century: the era deep into modernity in which we live, and one in which the boundaries of art itself — not just the adjectives preceding it — show no sign of ceasing to expand.

Note: Open Culture has a partnership with Coursera. If readers enroll in certain Coursera courses and programs, it helps support Open Culture.

Related Content:

Take Seven Free Courses From the Museum of Modern Art (aka MoMA)

What Is Contemporary Art?: A Free Online Course from The Museum of Modern Art

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How to Make a Savile Row Suit: A Short Documentary from the Museum of Modern Art

Art Historian Provides Hilarious & Surprisingly Efficient Art History Lessons on TikTok

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

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