Press Releases & Statements

One Facilitated Visit to an Art Museum by Elementary Students Yields a Variety of Educational Benefits

New York, NY
September 27, 2018

A new study from the National Art Education Association (NAEA) and the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) shows that facilitated classroom visits to an art museum had a measurable impact on key aspects of student learning. The comprehensive study, conducted over a four year period, involved more than 2,600 students in grades 4 through 6, and included facilitated experiences at six art museums across the United States: Columbus Museum of Art, Hammer Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Orlando Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design Museum and Walters Art Museum. Titled the "Impact of Art Museum Programs on Students Research Study," the results demonstrate that there are a variety of educational benefits to classroom visits to art museums, across four areas: 


As students observe works of art, they formulate questions and practice key critical thinking and communication skills. Inquiry-based approaches prompt student dialogue that activates collaborative learning and demonstrates how questions function as tools to surface meaning.


A facilitated, inquiry-based single-visit art museum program can encourage students to practice listening and respectful debate and discover different interpretations of art objects.


Little compares to experiencing works of art in a museum. Seeing original works of art and participating in a facilitated, inquiry-based art museum program engages the senses, holds students’ attention. and stimulates questions about artists’ choices and creative processes.


The emotional impact of first-hand encounters with works of art in a museum setting can inspire greater recall and more detailed description, which can lead to more complex interpretations.

A symposium, to be held at the Detroit Institute of Arts on Saturday, October 13, 2018, will be an opportunity to examine the study and its results in more detail. All study publications and final reports, in addition to a Study User Guide, will be made available at

“This study shows that facilitated engagement with original works of art in an art museum has a strong impact on students, inspiring them to question, understand, and investigate. . Facilitated museum experiences inspire students to look closely, and as they do, they wonder, explore, share ideas, and discover personal connections.  Facilitated single-visit art museum programs that use inquiry and discussion-based teaching practices also stimulate and foster students’ creativity and curiosity,” said Deborah B. Reeve, EdD, Executive Director of the National Art Education Association.

“These findings are consistent with the work that art museums do with audiences of all ages and abilities, from young children with autism to aging Alzheimer's patients, to doctors and detectives who use artworks as study materials. Practicing skills such as observation across a variety of learning environments clearly has the potential to contribute to meaningful cognitive gains. We are grateful to the NAEA for collaborating with us on this study to explore this topic in such depth,” said Christine Anagnos, Executive Director of the Association of Art Museum Directors.

The four-year study was conducted by research partner Randi Korn & Associates (RK&A).

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services MG-10-15-0079-15 and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.


About NAEA

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.


About AAMD

The Association of Art Museum Directors advances the profession by cultivating leadership capabilities of directors, advocating for the field, and fostering excellence in art museums. An agile, issues-driven organization, AAMD fosters engagement, leadership, and shared learning. Further information about AAMD’s professional practice guidelines and position papers is available at


About IMLS

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebook (link is external) and Twitter (link is external).




Christine Anagnos / Alison Wade
Association of Art Museum Directors

Sascha Freudenheim
PAVE Communications and Consulting