Rice Global Paris Center hosts art history students, faculty during spring break trip

HART in Paris

Rice University’s Department of Art History embarked on a journey to Paris in March, marking the 10th anniversary of its annual spring break trip. The excursion, organized in collaboration with the Rice Global Paris Center, was a week-long exploration of art, culture and history.

“Gordon (Hughes) and I have been working in Paris for a long time,” said Fabiola López-Durán. “Because of our research, because of our scholarship, we know this city very well, so it was an easy place to think of taking the students.”

Along with fellow associate professor of art history Hughes, López-Durán spearheaded the trip, emphasizing the importance of travel in fostering critical thinking and direct experience.

“We were really excited about the new Rice Global Paris Center,” López-Durán said.

“It’s jaw dropping,” Hughes said of the center. “It has so far exceeded my expectations.”

The center’s staff was also a key asset in the planning and execution of the first-of-its-kind trip for the department.

“I can’t emphasize how amazing they were,” Hughes said, specifically referring to the center’s coordinator Camille Evans and its administrative director Garry White. “Everything was made so easy for us.”

That support made the experience seamless and enjoyable for all involved, added López-Durán, noting that the center’s staff was able to get Metro cards, museum tickets, restaurant reservations and more for their large group.

“I feel this spring break trip to Paris was a combination of learning about the city, learning about art, learning about each other and enjoying our time together over there,” López-Durán said.

The immersive nature of the trip encompassed not only museum visits but also architectural explorations, culinary adventures and encounters with the vibrant pulse of Parisian life. López-Durán expressed her joy in sharing her knowledge of Paris with the students, guiding them through hidden passages and secret corners of the kaleidoscopic and multicultural city.

“Being there with this group, being there with Fabiola, I just felt like I experienced the city in a whole new way,” said Hughes, who like López-Durán has spent time living in Paris. “When you’re experiencing somebody else’s Paris, it’s just great to see areas that I haven’t really explored before.”

Several of the students expressed to the professors how important the trip was for them, and Hughes echoed their sentiment.

“I kind of feel like it has been the highlight of my time at Rice,” Hughes said.

Learn more about Rice’s art history department here.