Our thematic lessons invite students to explore the Museum's collections and exhibitions—either in-person or virtually—through discussion, close looking, and creative expression, and to make connections between visual art and history, current events, and their own lives.
Educators can choose from a range of themes that build a variety of skills in a space that centers anti-oppressive teaching through thoughtfulness, empathy, and cultural fluency. Each theme can be tailored to the learning and engagement needs of your students. We invite you to select one theme, and indicate which collections you would prefer to explore through the topic, using our booking form.
Lessons for grades K–2 are 60 minutes long for in-person visits, or 30 minutes long for virtual ones, and offer students a welcoming environment to develop critical thinking and visual literacy skills, such as observation, description, compare and contrast, and interpretation. Learning strategies include role-play, storytelling, movement, and drawing. Lessons for grades 3–12 are 75 minutes long for in-person visits, or 45 minutes long for virtual ones, and invite students to further their critical thinking, visual literacy, and cultural literacy with learning strategies such as evidence-based discussion, drawing, and writing.
Art and Activism
Observe how artists engage with social movements like racial equity, feminism, environmental justice, and more. Explore what activism means for these artists and their communities while connecting contemporary and historic resistance movements.
Art and Environment
Apply close looking techniques to artworks inspired by or made with materials from the natural world. Analyze how communities throughout history have interacted with their natural and built environments.
Examine the choices artists make when telling a visual story, including character, setting, and plot. Ask and answer questions about works of art to develop literacy skills through exploration.
Belief Systems and Community
Examine artworks from various cultures to learn about these communities through their belief systems (religious, spiritual, political, and philosophical). Compare and contrast belief systems across continents such as Africa, Asia, North America, and South America, and between the past and our present.
(Re)Creating a Nation: Arts of the United States
Investigate the history of the United States from the points of view of many groups of people including Native Americans, enslaved Africans, European colonizers, and immigrants, as well as their future generations. Assess how these complex histories of community and power are told through art objects. Visits focus on one of four historical moments:
Symbols of Tradition and Power
Investigate how civilizations around the world have used symbolism in artworks to create and maintain cultural traditions and to communicate power. Recognize how symbols and traditions across societies (such as ancient Egypt, ancient China, the Aztec empire, and Assyria) present culturally specific notions of power, and make connections between their cultures and ours.