Press Releases & Statements

How Do Visits to Art Museums Impact Overall Cognitive and Academic Abilities for K-12 Students? NAEA and AAMD Release a Literature Review as First Step Toward Comprehensive Examination

Washington, DC
March 1, 2017

How can a single visit to an art museum impact the minds and hearts of K-12 students? The National Art Education Association (NAEA), and the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) today released the first step in a national research project aimed at determining the cognitive and emotional values of art museum field trips.

“Our hypothesis is that engaging directly with original works of art within the distinctive physical setting of art museums, during guided programs that use constructive and inquiry-based pedagogies, can nurture a series of competencies among a series of interrelated domains—cognitive, experiential, affective, social, and academic,” said Deborah Reeve, Executive Director of the National Art Education Association and Christine Anagnos, Executive Director or the Association of Art Museum Directors.

The multi-year research effort includes an intense data collection period (currently underway) at six art museums across the country. The study will include a control group and two treatment groups. The control group will not have experienced a single-visit to an art museum or an in-classroom art lesson. One treatment group will have an in-museum experience and the other treatment group will have an in-classroom experience. Data from all three groups will be analyzed to determine experiential differences among them. The literature review released today, The Impact of Art Museum Programs on Students, is a comprehensive analysis of existing research about the relationship between learning and visits to all types of museums, providing insight to the essential goals of our study:


  • What does research tell us about how students benefit from experiences in art museums that take place during the school day and that also involve significant engagement with original works of art?
  • In what ways do constructivist and inquiry-based pedagogies underpin current theories and practices in American art museums related to K-12 field trip programs?
  • What is known about the way in which a series of interrelated competencies—critical thinking, creative thinking, sensorimotor and affective response, human connections and empathy, and academic connections—might be nurtured through encounters with works of art in the museum setting?
  • What is the value of single-visit “field trips” and what constitutes effective practices? Where does a field trip begin and end?
 The initial phase of the primary research will be complete in the first half of 2017.


Founded in 1947, the National Art Education Association is the leading professional membership organization exclusively for visual arts educators. Members include elementary, middle, and high school visual arts educators; college and university professors; university students preparing to be art educators; researchers and scholars; teaching artists; administrators and supervisors; and art museum educators—as well as more than 49,000 students who are members of the National Art Honor Society.

The Association of Art Museum Directors—representing 244 art museum directors in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico—promotes the vital role of art museums throughout North America and advances the profession by cultivating leadership and communicating standards of excellence in museum practice. Further information about AAMD's professional practice guidelines and position papers is available at



David Harrison