Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS)

VTS, developed by Philip Yenawine and Abigail Housen, is another method of inquiry that allows people to fully explore a work of art. VTS encourages close looking and critical thinking. Use VTS with artworks that are narrative and open to multiple interpretations. For artworks with a specific cultural meaning, avoid using VTS.

Many guides and docents use VTS during school or youth tours, but it also an effective strategy to use at the start of adult or multigenerational tours. The series of questions (What’s going on in this picture? What do you see that makes you say that? What more can we find?) allows all people to focus on various details and encourages more discoveries, supported through impartial paraphrasing by the docent/guide. Used at the start of a tour to encourage observations, VTS helps unify the group and gets more voices into the tour.

VTS works best with artworks the visitors have not seen before; for Art Adventure tours, VTS is best used at any substitutes that are narrative and open to multiple interpretations.